Russian Federation has requested an global arrest warrant for former oil tycoon and Putin-critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky for the alleged murder of a Siberian town mayor.
Khodorkovsky said he might apply for asylum in Britain, and that the arrest warrant showed Putin still saw him as a threat.
After spending 10 years in prison for tax evasion, embezzlement and fraud, Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Putin in 2013. Khodorkovsky has maintained his innocence, with his supporters saying he was tried on trumped up charges due to a falling out with Putin.
At the time of his pardon, Khodorkovsky said he would not get involved in politics – which was was widely believed to have been the reason for his early release.
Khodorkovsky said he aims to “help young political activists in Russia to gain political experience and present an alternative to the existing regime” through his Open Russia pro-democracy organization and other avenues.
He said it was “far too optimistic” to speak of regime change in Russian Federation now, “but I’m quite confident that within 10 years the regime will be changed and I hope I will play a significant role in that”.
In a wide ranging interview, Khodorkovsky was asked by the BBC if the murders of prominent opponents of Putin – including former secret agent Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with radioactive polonium in a London hotel in 2006 – made him feel at risk.
The opposition leader, 52 – once worth around £10billion ($15bn) – said he feels safe in London and is interested in seeking political asylum.
Khodorkovsky, a loud detractor o President Putin, is wanted for allegedly ordering subordinates to kill the mayor of Nefteyugansk in 1998.
“They have gone mad”, he said of the Kremlin, saying his arrest in absentia had been approved “without any obvious facts”. Russia’s Investigative Committee say he was attempting to avoid paying taxes for his oil company, Yukos.
A French court earlier this month backed the freezing of Russian assets in France at the behest of shareholders in Khodorkovsky’s former oil firm Yukos.
Petukhov was killed in June 1998; Rybin survived two bids on his life, in 1998 and 1999.
“In revenge for the arrest of Russian property in France, the Investigative Committee arrested Kulle Pispanen’s MacBook and iPhone, a letter to Father Christmas and a portrait of Khodorkovsky”, Open Russia employee Maria Baronova wrote on Facebook.
Previous year an global arbitration court in The Hague said Russian officials had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos, and jail Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
An worldwide arbitration court in The Hague in July ordered Russian Federation to pay Yukos’s former shareholders $50 billion in compensation for illegally seizing the company.