A jailed Putin critic has called on the UK to lift sanctions against one of the last Russian oligarchs living in London, it has been reported.
Ilya Yashin, 39, urged the government to release billionaire Mikhail Fridman from the sanctions list, saying he has “serious doubts about the fairness and validity” of the financial restrictions.
Yashin told The Times that Fridman, 58, “has never been what is generally called the ‘Putin oligarch'” and therefore cannot be labeled a “warmonger”.
The businessman, who lives in a £65m mansion in Highgate, is worth an estimated £8.2bn. His assets were frozen last March and he is only allowed access to around £2,000 a month.
A jailed Putin critic has called on the UK to lift sanctions against Mikhail Fridman (pictured in 2019), one of the last Russian oligarchs living in London.
The businessman, who lives in a £65m mansion in Highgate (pictured), is worth an estimated £8.2bn. His assets were frozen last March and he is only allowed access to around £2,000 a month.
The government has described Fridman as a ‘pro-Kremlin oligarch’ who is ‘closely associated with Vladimir Putin’.
The UK also alleges that the billionaire’s Alfa-Bank helps support the Russian regime, according to the newspaper.
Britain’s sanctions list further states that Fridman’s alleged links to Putin make his associated with someone ‘involved in destabilizing and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine’.
Similarly, the EU sanctions list claims it “succeeded in cultivating strong ties” with Moscow and enables Putin’s so-called inner circle.
However, Yashin, who has been jailed in Russia since last year for condemning Putin’s massacre of Ukrainian citizens, claims Fridman is linked to Russian opposition leaders and is “very skeptical” of the Kremlin government. .
“He cannot be considered a warmonger or sponsor of the war,” the activist wrote about the alleged oligarch.
“Fridman is a private businessman who, of course, interacted with the Russian political machine but at the same time did not compromise himself in any way by participating in the political projects of the Russian government.”
Russian opposition leader Ilya Yashin, 39, (pictured at a hearing at Moscow’s Meshchansky district court last year) urged the government to release Fridman from the sanctions list, claiming he has ” serious doubts about the fairness and validity” of the financial restrictions.
A friend of Fridman’s echoed Yashin’s claims, arguing that he is “not pro-Kremlin” and has never had any personal interaction with Putin.
The billionaire’s friend also shared that Fridman stopped being a Russian tax resident in 2015 and instead pays tax in the UK, where he has lived since at least 2014.
Fridman was also allegedly “inquiring about British citizenship”, the friend told The Times.
Furthermore, Putin himself apparently mocked Fridman in a speech last month, suggesting he has little respect for the oligarch.
“Recent events have clearly shown that the image of the West as a safe haven for capital was a mirage,” the Kremlin leader said of the oligarchs who fled Russia.
“Those who did not understand this in time, who saw Russia only as a source of income and planned to live mainly abroad, have lost a lot. They were just robbed there and even their legitimate money was taken from them.
Fridman, a father of five children, currently lives in his north London mansion with his partner Oksana and their three-year-old daughter.
His relatives say he cannot leave the UK because “he has nowhere to go”.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair with Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Fridman and BP CEO Lord Browne after signing a joint trade deal during an energy summit between Russia and the UK in 2003.
Then Russian President Boris Yeltsin meets leading industrialists and bankers Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, Alexander Smolensky, Vladimir Potanin, Vladimir Vinogradov and Mikhail Fridman in 1997.
The billionaire’s friends say his criticism of the war and relations with Russian dissidents “make Moscow dangerous.”
Although Fridman, who is Jewish, holds an Israeli passport, he reportedly does not own a home in the country.
The oligarch’s friends claim that, due to the sanctions, he also does not have “access” to the funds necessary to buy a new house.
Fridman, however, is more concerned about the impacts the sanctions are having on his children than his access to money, according to the newspaper.
His 26-year-old daughter Katia has reportedly been sanctioned by Canada, preventing her from renewing her visa in the US. She has worked and resided in the US for nine years.
Similarly, his 17-year-old ex-wife, Olga Ayziman, has been sanctioned in France, where she lives.
Ayziman, who is Katia’s mother, claimed that the EU sanctions were imposed “without warning or explanation”.
Her sanctions were reportedly lifted after six months, however she remains concerned for Fridman, stating that the whole situation has been “extremely tough psychologically on him”.
Fridman, (pictured in 2019) who was born in Ukraine and has reportedly invested heavily in Ukrainian companies, has taken legal action to challenge the UK and EU sanctions.
Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine and has reportedly invested heavily in Ukrainian companies, is believed to have taken legal action to challenge the UK and EU sanctions.
He was arrested last December after 50 National Crime Squad officers raided his north London mansion.
He was detained on suspicion of “money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury.”
Fridman denies any wrongdoing and his friends allege the raid was “an effort to humiliate him and force him to leave the country.”