A Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin has claimed that the war in Ukraine will culminate in “people killing each other on the streets of Moscow”, a leaked phone call has shown. In a conversation dated January 2023 with anti-war businessman Nikolay Matushevsky, billionaire Roman Trotsenko suggested Russia was doomed in light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to become a “scorched desert” run into the ground by the Kremlin.
Presumably fearing for his life, Matushevsky denied the authenticity of the leaked audio despite Trotsenko’s phone number from the call corresponding with his publicly-available contact details.
In the first few minutes of the dialogue, Matushevsky says he has been “having a hard time in Russia recently” because he “understood that something was wrong” and that “there was nothing to do there”.
After Trotsenko agrees, Matushevsky adds: “We don’t need to remember what it was like in Russia. That’s gone and won’t ever be there again. This is no longer there and will never be again.”
The Russian billionaire Trotsenko agrees again before suggesting that while in Indonesia, “everything will grow tenfold in ten years, in Russia it will halve”.
The two businessmen go on to talk about moving their children out of Russia before eventually discussing the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Referring to Putin and his cronies, Trotsenko says: “Unfortunately, Russia, which we love so sincerely, has ended up in the clutches of some scumbags.
“This can’t end well, it will end in hell… People will kill each other on the streets of Moscow.
“How can a country live and develop, where the only ideology is making money and one group of people holding power?
“There is no concept of ‘what’s next’. They will die… at some point and leave nothing behind. It will simply be a scorched desert.”
He implies that the Kremlin has been feeding the Russian public “bull****” and that eventually, after it is too late, the civilian population will realise what is actually happening.
“People will not be able to withdraw money, will not be able to leave, their children will be called up into the war… [It’s horrific], frankly speaking.”
Trotsenko is one of the richest Russian businessmen. Forbes estimated his fortune at £3billion ($3.8billion in 2023).
Matushevsky is known as the creator of a number of creative spaces, in particular the Moscow design factory Flakon.
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Before the start of the full-scale war with Ukraine, Trotsenko regularly participated in Putin’s meetings with big business.
But on 24 February 2022, when Putin gathered businessmen in the Kremlin a few hours after the attack on Ukraine, Trotsenko was not among them.
The billionaire was also not seen at the last annual congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) in March 2023, where Putin delivered an address. Later, many participants of that meeting came under Western sanctions.
Since Putin ordered the full-scale invasion on February 24 last year, the UK and its allies have imposed the most severe sanctions Russia has ever faced against more than 1,200 individuals and over 120 entities.
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