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Mikhail Khodorkovsky St Gallen home for Kremlin critic

Rapperswil-Jona has an attractive old town

(Keystone)

The former Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, wants to settle in Rapperswil-Jona, in canton St Gallen, his spokesman confirmed on Thursday.

Khodorkovsky arrived in Switzerland at the start of January after being freed from prison in Russia and was granted a Schengen visa at the end of December.

It was announced that he had filed an application to stay on Monday, but the location was not revealed.

Rapperswil-Jona is a small historic town on the banks of Lake Zurich - population of over 26,000 - which boasts a medieval castle.

The tycoon 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

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