Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who spent a decade in jail after challenging the Kremlin, said he would be ready to lead Russia in a time of crisis if called upon.
Speaking at the launch of an online movement called Open Russia, Khodorkovsky appears to be breaking his promise to steer clear of politics after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in December last year, the Guardian newspaper reported.
“I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally,” he was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper.
“But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favor of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task,” said Khodorkovsky, who is now living in Switzerland with his family.
Open Russia, which was launched during a ceremony broadcast online from Paris, aims to unite pro-European Russians in a bid to challenge Putin’s grip on power, according to the Guardian.
Khodorkovsky stressed that his project is not a political party, although he said he is certain Putin would be upset.
The former head of the defunct oil producer Yukos openly supported the Ukrainian uprising that ousted a Moscow-backed president in February, but indicated he did not want a bloody revolt for Russia.
He instead called on those supporting a pro-European course for Russia to unite before the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016, the report said.
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