“Any person who openly criticizes Putin has reason to be concerned about his personal safety,” says the Russian billionaire
THE Boris Meads he is one of the few wealthy Russian businessmen to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.
The majority of high-profile people in the country have remained silent on the war, avoiding criticism of the Kremlin.
There is a simple explanation, according to Mr Meetz: “Everybody’s scared.”
The Kremlin has a reputation for stifling outspoken critics of President Putin, with the content of Russian news channels censored. Demonstrations have also been banned in the country since 2014, the BBC reports.
Mr Meads said that “any person”, who is openly critical of Putin, “has reason to be concerned about his personal safety”.
However, in an email interview he told the BBC: “I have no intention of living in a bomb shelter like Mr. Putin does».
And he continued:Any businessman capable of financing the opposition or cultivating protests, these people are considered enemies of Putin and therefore enemies of the state».
It’s a situation Mr Meads has experienced first-hand, having first spoken out publicly against President Putin’s policies in 2014 following Ukraine’s annexation of Crimea.
Mr Mintz felt he had to leave Russia in 2015 for the UK amid a growing crackdown on political opposition, with Boris Nemtsov assassinated that year.
Mr. Nemtsov was a staunch opponent of President Putin. His assassination in 2015 is the most high-profile political assassination since Putin came to power. Authorities deny any involvement.
Two years later, Mr Mintz’s former investment firm O1 Group found himself in open conflict with what he said was Russia’s Central Bank, launching legal proceedings in several different jurisdictions.
“When things like this start happening, it’s a clear signal that someone should leave the country immediately“, write down.
According to him, the “bravest step” for rich Russians who dislike him Vladimir Putin is to “go silently into exile.” Mintz cites the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia’s richest man but was jailed for nearly a decade on what he says were politically motivated fraud and tax evasion charges.
The Russian billionaire first met the Russian president in the early 1990s, but did not speak to him formally until January 2, 2000, two days after Putin was appointed acting president of Russia.
Mitch, who worked under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, was keen to discuss his plans for local government reform.
“Mr. Putin listened to my suggestions without commenting or arguing. The next day, Putin fired me“, he revealed himself.
He knew then that Putin’s vision for his country was miles away from that of the previous government. Abandoning politics, Mr Meads started a brokerage firm for private clients three years later.
Mr Meads has not been sanctioned by the British government, unlike other Russian businessmen who have been identified as having close ties to the Kremlin.
However, his name appeared on the so-called “Putin list” released by the US in 2018. Of the 210 names, 114 of them were listed as members of or connected to the government or key businessmen.
The remaining 96, which included Mr Meads, were listed as oligarchs because they were… “worth” more than $1 billion at the time, rather than because of their close ties to the Kremlin.
The father of four made the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires in 2017 with a total wealth of $1.3 billion.
“Not every Russian businessman is pro-Putin, and similarly, not every wealthy Russian is an “oligarch”“, he said.
Now living in the UK, Boris Mintz, an avid art collector, is comfortable without the need for extra security for himself and his family and has no ambitions to return to Russia.
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