Russian opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said he is considering applying for asylum in the UK after Russia issued a warrant for his arrest. The charges stem from his alleged involvement in a 1998 murder.
In an interview with BBC on Wednesday, Khodorkovsky said he is "definitely" considering seeking asylum in the UK after Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant stemming from Khodorkovsky's alleged orchestration of the 1998 murder of a Siberian mayor. He is also charged with the attempted murder of two other men.
"I'm considered by President Putin as a threat, economically, because of the possible seizure of Russian assets abroad," Khodorkovsky told the BBC, "and politically, as someone who will potentially help democratic candidates in the coming 2016 elections."
The asset seizure refers to Russian assets in France that were frozen by a French court on the initiative of shareholders in Yukos, the oil firm once headed by Khodorkovsky.
The current charges were brought earlier this month. It comes two years after Khodorkovsky was pardoned and released from prison by President Vladimir Putin after serving 10 years for tax evasion and fraud. Khodorkovsky has maintained his innocence, with his supporters saying he was tried on trumped up charges due to a falling out with Putin. It is widely believed that a condition of his release was that he refrain from politics. Khodorkovsky is currently the head of a pro-democracy group called Open Russia, which was raided this week by Russian authorities.
Khodorkovsky currently resides outside of Russia and spends much of his time in London. When asked in the BBC interview if he would fear for his life living in London, Khodorkovsky said he felt safer in London than he did during his 10 years of imprisonment. Prominent opposition figures in Russian politics have been murdered in recent years, including the former intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in a London hotel room in 2006.
mz/jil (AP, AFP)