Russian oligarchs must declare Putin a “war criminal” according to Khodorkovsky
- Mikhail Khodorkovsky says oligarchs who fled Russia must speak out against Putin.
- Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man, but is a vocal critic of the Kremlin.
- “You should take the microphone and say Putin is a war criminal,” he said.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a self-exiled Russian oligarch, said other Russian billionaires and officials who left the country should publicly condemn President Vladimir Putin or risk appearing as if they were working for the Kremlin.
“Public figures can’t leave quietly and then sit quietly. If you left, then you should publicly dissociate yourself,” Khodorkovsky said in an interview with The Washington Post, adding that if they don’t, the people “should be forced to suspect that you are acting” on behalf of the Kremlin.
“You should take the microphone and say that Putin is a war criminal and what he is doing is a crime, that the war against Ukraine is a crime. Say this, and then we will understand that Putin has not a hold on you,” Khodorkovsky continued.
Khodorkovsky, an outspoken critic of Putin, was once Russia’s richest man until his arrest in 2003 for fraud and tax evasion, a move he says was politically motivated. His oil company was taken over by the Russian state and he was imprisoned for almost a decade until his release in 2013.
In his comments to the Post, Khodorkovsky was referring to Alfa Bank oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, who left Russia after it invaded Ukraine. They were among the oligarchs hit with crippling sanctions by the UK and the European Union.
Khodorkovsky was also referring to Anatoly Chubais, who was Putin’s international envoy until he resigned and left Russia last month. Chubais is the senior official to have left Russia since the start of the war.
In another interview with CNN on Sunday, Khodorkovsky also said he thought Putin had gone “crazy” after Ukrainians did not welcome the Russian invasion.
“The fact that the people of Kharkiv didn’t meet him with flowers not only made him angry, but I really think it drove him literally crazy. That’s when ‘it started bombing Kharkiv and Kyiv,” he said.