Oppositional Russian politician Ilya Yashin, sentenced to 8.5 years in prison in the case of military “fakes”, commented on publications that he wrote personal letters to EU officials with a request to lift sanctions from the Russian oligarch and co-owner of Alfa Group Mikhail Fridman.
In his telegram channel, Yashin wrote: “I did not sign collective letters in defense of persons who fell under Western sanctions. But I spoke out in support of Mikhail Fridman, whom I have known for many years. I believe that I acted decently humanly and politically reasonable.”
The politician added that Fridman was a close friend of his friend and associates of Boris Nemtsov and helped him in “difficult moments.” In addition, Yashin writes, he knows how Lvov-born Fridman feels about the war the Kremlin is waging in Ukraine.
“It is clear that Friedman is not a saint: there are no saints in big business. But I don’t consider him a villain, a thief, let alone a warmonger. It doesn’t seem fair to me to put his name on the sanctions list on a par with Putin’s odious oligarchs,” added Yashin.
“Friedman’s precedent”, according to Yashin, could become an example for Russian business: “Do you want a chance for an amnesty? Don’t help Putin, and make efforts to stop military aggression. In my opinion, such an approach can give a good result.”
On March 14, The Financial Times published information that Yashin twice appealed to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with a request to lift sanctions against Friedman. For the first time, the oppositionist sent her a letter shortly before his arrest in a criminal case, and for the second time, while already in a pre-trial detention center, in February 2023.
Earlier that Yashin spoke in support of Fridman was reported by Bloomberg and journalist Sergei Parkhomenko. This information appeared after it became known about another letter in defense of Fridman and his partner in Alfa, Pyotr Aven, signed by journalists and oppositionists, including FBK board chairman Leonid Volkov.
It also turned out that in October last year, in addition to von der Leyen, Volkov sent a letter in support of the leaders of Alfa Group to the European Union representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell. After the scandal, the politician called the letter “a big political mistake” and announced that he had decided to “take a break in his public socio-political activities” as chairman of the board of the international FBK.
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