Vladimir Putin’s continued rule will lead to the “disintegration” of the Russian Federation, warned Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The exiled Russian businessman, who was once considered the richest person in the country, was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day panel discussion in Brussels focusing on Russia’s future and the country’s opposition.
Called ‘The Day After’, the conference was attended by EU and Russian opposition representatives and was organized by the main political groups in the European Parliament.
But Khodorkovsky said active resistance to the war in Ukraine is not as widespread as the opposition would like to think.
“Putin fails to completely fill people’s brains with his propaganda. However, unfortunately, people’s perceptions are changing under the pressure of propaganda,” said Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive officer of oil company Yukos.
He said many Russians believe losing the war in Ukraine could lead to the country’s collapse, a view he personally considers “wrong” but “utterly effective” in changing the narrative.
“This is the most dangerous thing. That’s why I speak so often and say that the disintegration of Russia is threatened only by Putin’s hand, and not because Putin leaves power,” the Kremlin critic said, speaking through a translator.
“This is the most important message for Russians today. Putin in power equals the disintegration of Russia.”
The lecture included questions on how to analyze Russian society and whether Russian opposition to Putin is opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Discussions also focused on EU strategy, including how the EU can support civil society and human rights in Russia.
Dead end ‘if things don’t change’
Andrius Kubilius, a Lithuanian MEP who was previously the country’s prime minister, told RockedBuzz via Euronews that a regime change in Russia could happen at any moment depending on the outcome of this war.
“Russia, I think, is reaching a dead end in its development if things don’t change,” said Kubilius.
He added that perestroika, the Soviet reform in the 1980s, in his view, occurred when the political elite realized that “if things continue to go the way they did during the Brezhnev period, then the Soviet Union it would collapse very quickly.”
Some 70 antiwar and opposition groups had previously met in Berlin in April to agree on a joint statement, which has now been signed by 30,000 Russians.
This position is that war is criminal, that the regime must be removed from power, and that Ukraine’s sovereignty within its 1991 borders must be restored.
Watch RockedBuzz via Euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta’s full report in the video player above.