Putin foe Khodorkovsky urges more targeted Russia sanctions

2nd December 2014, Comments 0 comments

Exiled Russian former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky urged the EU to target sanctions more closely against key officials over the Ukraine crisis, saying ordinary Russians were taking the brunt of the pain.

Speaking to the European Parliament, Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil firm head who spent a decade in prison after opposing Vladimir Putin, said Western sanctions were "encouraging the Kremlin to be more aggressive."

He called instead for "targeted... more intelligent" sanctions to hit the country's most "corrupt" officials.

The one-time billionaire said it was "unacceptable to rely on the exhaustion" of ordinary Russians facing hardship from US and EU sanctions that have hit at the heart of the Russian economy.

Russia on Tuesday predicted a recession in 2015 because of sanctions and falling oil prices, a day after the ruble suffered its biggest one-day fall since the 1998 financial meltdown.

"The majority of the Russian elite understands very well that the country is being driven to disaster," said Khodorkovsky, who is currently living in Switzerland.

The Kremlin meanwhile was biding its time, hoping for crisis in the European system, with the possible exit of Britain, and further weakening of the euro zone economy, he warned.

Khodorkovsky, once the richest man in Russia, was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International after he was jailed in 2005 on charges of embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion.

His imprisonment was seen by critics as a Kremlin-driven reprisal for his forays into politics against Putin, and his Yukos oil firm -- once the biggest in Russia -- was dismantled.

© 2014 AFP

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