Boris Mints is one of some wealthy Russian businesspeople to talk out towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.
The vast majority of high-profile folks within the nation have remained silent over the battle, avoiding criticism of the Kremlin.
There may be one easy clarification, based on Mr Mints: “They’re all afraid.”
The Kremlin has a status for cracking down on outspoken critics of President Putin with the content material on Russian information channels managed. Unauthorised protests have additionally been banned within the nation since 2014.
Mr Mints stated “any individual” who overtly criticises Putin “has grounds to fret about private security”.
Nevertheless, in an interview carried out over e mail, he informed the BBC: “I’ve no intention to dwell in a bomb shelter, as Mr Putin does.”
The 64-year-old, who constructed his wealth via funding firm O1 Group, which he based in 2003 after which offered in 2018, stated that in Russia the “traditional manner” to punish a enterprise proprietor for his or her “intolerance” in the direction of the regime was to “open a fabricated prison case towards their enterprise”.
“Such prison instances will have an effect on not solely the enterprise homeowners themselves, but additionally their household and workers,” he stated.
“Any enterprise chief unbiased from [Putin] is seen as a menace as she or he could also be able to financing opposition or cultivating protest – as such, these individuals are seen as Putin’s enemies and, subsequently, as enemies of the state,” he added.
It’s a scenario Mr Mints has first-hand expertise of, having first spoken out publicly towards President Putin’s insurance policies in 2014 after Crimea was annexed from Ukraine.
Mr Mints felt he wanted to depart Russia in 2015 for the UK “within the context of rising crackdown on political opposition”, with Boris Nemtsov being shot lifeless that 12 months.
Mr Nemtsov was a fierce adversary of President Putin. His homicide in 2015 is the highest-profile political killing since Mr Putin got here to energy. The authorities deny any involvement.
Two years later, Mr Mints’ former funding firm O1 Group “discovered itself in an open battle towards Central Financial institution of Russia”, he stated, with authorized proceedings beginning throughout a number of completely different jurisdictions.
“When issues like this begin to occur, it’s a clear sign that one ought to depart the nation instantly,” he stated.
He stays the topic of present authorized motion by the Kremlin.
It’s due to such motion that Mr Mints suggests the “bravest step accessible” for rich Russians who dislike Mr Putin is to “go silently into exile”, citing the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was as soon as Russia’s wealthiest man, however was jailed for nearly a decade on expenses of fraud and tax evasion which, he says, have been politically motivated.
Two of the nation’s most distinguished oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska stopped in need of direct criticism of Mr Putin after they made separate requires peace in Ukraine.
Mr Fridman, a billionaire banker, stated any private remarks might be a danger not simply to himself but additionally to workers and colleagues.
Nevertheless, Mr Mints has been joined by Russian tycoon Oleg Tinkov, founding father of Tinkoff Financial institution and former proprietor of biking staff Tinkoff-Saxo, in lambasting the invasion.
Mr Mints referred to as President Putin’s actions “vile”, saying the invasion was “probably the most tragic occasion in current historical past, not solely of Ukraine and Russia, however globally”.
He additionally in contrast it to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.
“This battle is a results of insanity and starvation for energy of a single individual, Vladimir Putin, supported by his inside circle,” stated Mr Mints, who was chairman of one of many largest pension asset managers in Russia till 2018.
The BBC has contacted the Kremlin for remark.
‘Sacked the day after we met’
Mr Mints was first launched to Mr Putin within the early Nineteen Nineties however solely correctly spoke with him on 2 January 2000, two days after Mr Putin was appointed performing president of Russia.
Mr Mints, who labored beneath former Russian President Boris Yeltsin within the Nineteen Nineties, was eager to debate his plans to reform native authorities to develop Russia’s democracy into the twenty first Century.
“Mr Putin listened to my recommendations with out commenting or arguing. The next day, Putin sacked me,” he stated.
He knew then that Mr Putin’s imaginative and prescient for his nation was “miles away” from the earlier administration’s.
Leaving politics, Mr Mints began a inventory brokerage for particular person purchasers three years later.
Mr Mints has not been sanctioned by the UK authorities, in contrast to different Russian businessmen who’ve been recognized as having shut hyperlinks to the Kremlin.
Nevertheless, his title did seem on a so-called “Putin record” launched by the US in 2018. Out of 210 names, 114 of them have been listed as being within the authorities or linked to it, or key businessmen.
The opposite 96, which included Mr Mints, have been listed as oligarchs apparently decided extra by the very fact they have been price greater than $1bn (£710m) on the time, slightly than their shut ties to the Kremlin.
The daddy-of-four made Forbes’ world billionaires record in 2017 with a complete wealth of $1.3bn, earlier than he dropped off in 2018.
However he dismissed recommendations that he was an oligarch.
“Not each Russian entrepreneur is pro-Putin, and likewise neither is each rich Russian individual an ‘oligarch’,” he stated. “In Russia, the time period means a enterprise chief who could be very linked to Putin and most of whose wealth, or the earnings of their companies, rely on co-operation with the Russian state.
“Russia is just not solely an oilfield with an aluminium mine within the centre,” he added. “It’s a nation of 140 million folks. Individuals there as all over the place else have their wants and these wants are in no way completely different from these right here within the West.”
Now residing within the UK, Mr Mints, a eager artwork collector, feels snug with out the necessity for additional safety to maintain himself and his household secure in Britain, and has no present ambition to maneuver again to Russia.