Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, Russian billionaires, speak out against Moscow’s Ukraine invasion
Top Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska openly denounced Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, while businessman Anatoly Chubays posted a photo of a murdered Vladimir Putin critic without any caption.
The billionaires called the invasion a “tragedy” and asked for the “bloodshed” to end.
Mr Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men, controls the private equity firm LetterOne and co-founded Alfa Group, a multinational Russian conglomerate. He ranked as the 128th richest person in the world in 2021.
In an email to his staff at London-based LetterOne, the Ukraine-born billionaire, who rarely comments on political events, wrote that “war can never be the answer”, The Financial Times reported.
“I do not make political statements, I am a businessman with responsibilities to my many thousands of employees in Russia and Ukraine. I am convinced however that war can never be the answer. This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years,” Mr Fridman wrote.
“While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end. I’m sure my partners share my view,” he further wrote.
The business tycoon said he spent the first 17 years of his life in Ukraine, adding that his parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in the city of Lviv. He mentioned that he felt deeply attached to people on both sides of the border and said the current conflict would be a “tragedy” for both.
Following Mr Fridman’s statement, Mr Deripaska, who founded Basic Element, one of Russia’s largest industrial groups, and Volnoe Delo, Russia’s largest charitable foundation, also called for peace talks to begin “as fast as possible” in a post on messaging app Telegram.
“Peace is very important! Negotiations must begin as soon as possible!” wrote the metals magnate, who is known to be a supporter of Vladimir Putin and has been on the US sanctions list since 2018 over his alleged links to the Russian government, which he has legally challenged.
Meanwhile, Mr Chubays, popularly known as the “Father of the Oligarchs”, uploaded a cryptic post on his Facebook page.
It carried a photo of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition politician who was a vocal critic of Mr Putin, without any caption.
Nemtsov had been shot dead by a gunman near the Kremlin, when he was walking with a Ukrainian woman in 2015. The woman had escaped unhurt.
Just weeks before Nemtsov was assassinated, he had expressed fears that Mr Putin “will kill me”.
“I’m afraid Putin will kill me. I believe that he was the one who unleashed the war in the Ukraine [he was due to attend a march against Russia’s alleged backing of rebels in Ukraine before his death]. I couldn’t dislike him more,” Nemtsov had told Russia’s Sobesednik news website.
The calls to end the current conflict in Ukraine from the top Russian billionaires come as athletes and other prominent Russian personalities voiced their resentment towards the country’s military actions on Ukrainian soil in the backdrop of citizens’ protests being held across the country.