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Western sanctions discredited Russian opposition - presidential aide

May 24, 2014, 6:08 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

“Not only did the Russian society consolidate, but the Russian elite has also consolidated", Andrey Belousov said

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© ITAR-TASS/ Anton Novoderezhkin

ST. PETERSBURG, May 24 /ITAR-TASS/. Sanctions against Russia imposed by Western countries on a US initiative over Moscow’s position on events in Ukraine have resulted in the opposition losing support in the country, a Russian presidential aide said.

“Not only did the Russian society consolidate, which is demonstrated by the president’s rating and surveys over Crimea’s incorporation, but the Russian elite has also consolidated. I don’t think that Americans supposed that there will be such an effect when they were imposing sanctions,” Andrey Belousov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel in an interview.

Belousov said the sanctions led to an unusual effect for their organizer.

“This has never happened before. The so-called opposition has now lost support from the public and from the elite. So it would be strange to me, frankly speaking, if Americans continued that line further,” he said.

Belousov said the Russian authorities have worked out a plan of action should new sanctions be introduced.

“I can say that certain tactics have been developed in the form of a document. For clear reasons, the document is secret,” he said.

Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes after Crimea’s incorporation by Russia.

Russia has dismissed the threats of further penalties, including economic ones, against it, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western countries.

A coup occurred in Ukraine in February. Russia does not recognize the legitimacy of the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev.

The Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, in which most Crimeans voted to reunify with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deal March 18.

The West and the de facto Kiev authorities refuse to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession was in line with the international law.

After Crimea’s accession to Russia, massive protests against the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories. Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against pro-federalization activists.

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