Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky is considering applying for political asylum in the UK after he was placed on an international wanted list. On 23 December, the former oil tycoon and Siberian prison inmate was placed on the list to be considered by Interpol, after Russian Authorities affirmed they want to speak to him over the 1998 murder of a Siberian mayor.
Russia's Investigative Committee requested the international arrest warrant for the Kremlin's most famous critic on 23 December. And now Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, may now seek refuge in the UK to escape Putin's grasp.
He was head of the now defunct Yukos oil, but was sent to a Siberian prison in 2003 where he spent 10 years after being convicted of tax evasion, fraud, and embezzlement – which he claims was politically motivated. After being pardoned by Putin ahead of the Sochi Olympics in 2013, he moved to Switzerland.
He has since set up the Open Russia foundation which he says aims to promote a democratic government in Russia, and has accused Putin of corruption and abuse of power. Their offices have been searched by prosecutors, along with the flats of staff members.
"Definitely I'm considering asking for asylum in the UK," he said to the BBC. "I'm considered by President Putin as a threat, economically, because of the possible seizure of Russian assets abroad, and politically, as someone who will potentially help democratic candidates in the coming 2016 elections."
The arrival of the former Yukos boss would further strain tensions between Russia and the west which has intensified over events in Syria and the Middle East. Khodorkovsky may apply to an embassy in the UK for asylum like Julian Assange – who is currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Earlier in December Russian authorities accused Khodorkovsky of murdering the mayor of a Siberian town, Vladimir Petukhov, along with the attempted murder of two other men. Russian prosecutors have threatened to use "all legal means" to hunt down Khodorkovsky.
In a statement on the Open Russia website Khodorkovsky said: "They've gone mad. An arrest in absentia without any obvious facts, in this situation that must look just fine. What matters most is the safety of those others."
If Interpol approves the request by the Kremlin, then police authorities in all 190 member states are obliged to arrest him. But the agency has declined similar requests from Russia in the past, including a warrant for the arrest of entrepreneur Bill Browder, a critic of the Putin government.