Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky seeks residency in Switzerland

10th March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Former Russian oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison in Russia, has applied for a residency permit in Switzerland, his spokesman told AFP on Monday.

"His application for residency was filed a while ago," said spokesman Boris Durande, without specifying which part of Switzerland Khodorkovsky intends to settle in.

The 50-year-old top foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been living at a Zurich hotel since shortly after he was pardoned and released from prison last December 20.

He was once Russia's richest man and an influential politician with presidential ambitions who openly opposed Putin when the former KGB spy first entered the Kremlin in 2000.

His 2003 arrest and subsequent convictions on fraud and embezzlement charges have been widely condemned by Kremlin critics as an effort by Putin to silence his most potent foe.

Khodorkovsky left Russia immediately after his sudden release and has vowed not to return until the authorities drop old lawsuits against him worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He travelled first to Berlin, where was granted a three-month visa to Switzerland, where two of his children attend boarding school.

Khodorkovsky has travelled extensively since his release.

He is currently in Kiev, where on Sunday he addressed a rally on Independence Square, the epicentre of mass protests that led to the ouster of Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych late last month.

In January he went to Israel, reportedly to meet three former partners at his former Yukos oil empire. The three had fled to Israel after facing fraud charges in Russia in 2005.

© 2014 AFP

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