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Mikhail Khodorkovsky


Kremlin critic wants to stay put




The former Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has filed an application to remain in Switzerland. He arrived in the country at the start of January after being freed from prison in Russia and was granted a Schengen visa at the end of December.

His spokesperson confirmed on Monday that the request had been made, but would not reveal precisely where.

Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and released from a decade-long imprisonment in December 2013. He flew to Berlin just hours after leaving jail, and then joined his wife and two sons in Switzerland at the beginning of the year.

His current visa allows him to travel freely within the 26-nation Schengen area, which includes Switzerland and much of the European Union, but not Britain, for 90 days over any 180-day period.

He was put behind bars in 2003 on charges of fraud and tax evasion. The former owner of the Yukos oil company and once the richest man in Russia, Khodorkovsky was considered to be a political prisoner by Switzerland and the West, as the charges against him were seen to be a warning against those who challenged Putin.

Since his arrival in Switzerland, the former oil magnate has travelled a great deal. On Sunday he spoke to a crowd of thousands in Kiev, criticising Russia and accusing the country of being involved in police violence against protestors.

swissinfo.ch and agencies