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As reported by Reuters, the head of Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, is warning that a proposed Russian law could see Russian civilians jailed for helping to enforce US sanctions on Russia. German Gref, the bank’s top executive, is concerned the law could backfire on Russia’s weakened economy.

Key quotes

The draft legislation has exposed divisions within Russia’s ruling elite over how to react to Washington’s latest round of sanctions. Pro-Kremlin hawks want a tough response, while economic liberals, also allied to the Kremlin, say that could hurt the fragile economy.

In an interview with Reuters, Gref said criminalizing compliance with U.S. sanctions could force international firms to pull out of Russia.

“This law … will hit all public companies very hard, not to mention the banking sector,” said Gref. “It will be a problem for all foreign investors. I fear that, in a choice between coming under American sanctions or writing off their Russian investments, they will chose the second option.”

President Vladimir Putin said last week lawmakers backing the legislation were guided by “emotional considerations” and that the response to U.S. sanctions should be balanced.”