- Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man, before spending almost a decade in prison.
- He told CNN that the Ukraine war has “significantly reduced” Putin’s ability to stay in power.
- “We are no longer thinking in terms of him being around another decade,” he said in the interview.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky – an exiled oligarch who was once the richest man in Russia – said on Friday that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has “significantly reduced” the longtime president’s chances of remaining in power.
“I’m convinced that Putin hasn’t got much time left. Maybe a year, maybe three,” he told CNN during an interview, adding later, “Today we are no longer thinking in terms of him being around another decade as we thought a week ago. “
Khodorkovsky is the former CEO of the Russian oil giant Yukos, a position that temporarily made him Russia’s richest man in 2003 with a reported net worth of $ 15 billion. In 2001, he founded Open Russia, a diplomacy initiative that was later shut down by Russian authorities.
After being charged with fraud and tax evasion, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2005. He was later pardoned by Putin and released a year early in 2013.
Khodorkovsky said his imprisonment was politically motivated. Putin’s former prime minister testified that the Kremlin ordered Khodorkovsky’s arrest due to his funding of the opposition party, according to a 2010 Reuters report.
Now the exiled businessman lives in London and is known as one of Putin’s most outspoken critics. In his interview with CNN, Khodorkovsky said Putin is his “personal enemy” but also “the enemy of humankind.” A handful of Russian billionaires have spoken out over the past week to similarly denounce the invasion of Ukraine.
His prediction that Russia’s attack on Ukraine will eventually end Putin’s rule has been echoed by experts at the Kennan Institute, a Russian research center in the US.
“The attack on Ukraine was not just an absolute crime,” Mikhail Minakov, the institute’s senior advisor on Ukraine, wrote in a blog post last week. “It was an irreparable mistake that put into motion the end-game for Putin’s regime in Russia.”