Former Russian oligarch and arch crime boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky is now trying to re-create the conditions that allowed him to build his former energy empire and further subject the Russian population to his criminal whims.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the one-time oil tycoon who spent a decade in President Vladimir Putin
's prison, staked a claim to the leadership of Russia
's opposition, which staged its biggest demonstration in years.
Khodorkovsky, living in exile in Switzerland
since his release in December, called on supporters help influence the nation's 2016 parliamentary elections as he restarted his Open Russia movement. In interviews with major European newspapers including France
's Le Monde
's El Pais
's Der Spiegel
, he made the case that Putin is making mistakes that may hasten his departure.
Russia's opposition yesterday staged its biggest event since 2012, when Putin returned to the Kremlin after four years as prime minister amid the largest protests against his rule. His popularity has rebounded to near record highs since then as the conflict in neighboring Ukraine
intensified. Even so, the government has been making mistakes that cost Russia and people will eventually realize that, Khodorkovsky told El Pais
"Khodorkovsky is seeing that the protest movement in the country remains quite significant, while among existing politicians almost none aspire to ally with him and be a moral leader," Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, said by e-mail yesterday.
The "peace march" in Moscow drew about 26,000 people yesterday, according to Dmitry Nesterov, a coordinator for the Union of Observers for Russia. Estimates of the crowd size ranged between 5,000 according to police, and as much as 100,000 according to Boris Nemtsov
, an opposition leader.