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Latest update : 2018-03-22

Khodorkovsky blames Kremlin for Russian ex-spy poisoning

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man. But the former Yukos CEO spent ten years in jail for alleged tax evasion and theft, charges he claims were a political vendetta. He now lives in exile in London and is a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin. In an interview with FRANCE 24, he reacted to Putin's re-election and the recent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury.

Russian exile and Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky told FRANCE 24 that "dependent voters, those whose livelihoods depend on the government", as well as "other election-rigging techniques", helped Vladimir Putin win re-election as Russian president on Sunday.

Vladimir Putin "is planning to remain in power for at least 25 years", Khodorkovsky said. However, asked whether the Russian leader planned to stay in power for life, Khodorkovsky said he was "convinced that Putin would like to leave at some point", but that "his inner circle will try to keep him in power" as a way of protection.

Khodorkovsky also reacted to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK. British authorities have clearly pointed the finger of blame at Moscow. "If our suspicions are right and if the Kremlin is behind it, this would mean that the Kremlin demonstrates blatant disregard for the rule of law and international relations", Khodorkovsky said. More specifically, he blamed "a very restricted inner circle that is in fact a criminal gang" for the poisoning of the Skripals.

He also urged British authorities to "reinvestigate" the deaths of several Russians in the UK in recent years.

By Marc PERELMAN

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