Putin critic receives Swiss resident permit

Rapperswil on Lake Zurich should be Khodorkovsky's new home Keystone

Russian millionaire and former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been granted the right to settle in Switzerland for the coming year, the Federal Office for Migration has confirmed.

This content was published on March 30, 2014 - 15:01 and agencies

The permit was granted last Thursday migration office spokeswoman Léa Wertheimer told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. “It is a permit for one year,” she added.

According to Wertheimer, Khodorkovsky’s application was thoroughly checked before being approved. “It fulfilled all the legal criteria and there were no political circumstances that would justify denying the request,” she said.

The 50-year-old former oil tycoon was granted a three-month Schengen visa by Switzerland at the end of last year and arrived by train in Basel from Berlin at the start of January.

A spokeswoman for Khodorkovsky confirmed earlier this month that he had submitted a request for permanent residency in Switzerland. Canton St Gallen had already approved his application and Khodorkovsky and his family are expected to live in Rapperswil-Jona at the southern end of Lake Zurich. His wife and two sons had already been living in the country.

Permits are normally granted in relation with a work permit, but wealthy foreigners who are not considered a threat to security can be granted resident status. In canton St Gallen, Khodorkovsky would pay a lump-sum tax based on the rental value of his home.

Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky was jailed in 2003 for fraud and tax evasion. He was seen by many as a political prisoner, the highest-profile victim of President Vladimir Putin's campaign to rein in the "oligarchs" who had made fortunes snapping up assets in the chaotic years of Boris Yeltsin's rule following the collapse of Soviet communism.

Khodorkovsky, who was released from a Russian prison camp near the Arctic Circle last December, has spent much of the last few months travelling, notably to Ukraine.

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