Now three oligarchs call for end of Ukraine invasion

Now three oligarchs including Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev call for an end of Ukraine invasion – as media mogul asks Putin to ‘save the world from annihilation’

  • Evgeny Lebedev uses Evening Standard newspaper to appeal to Vladimir Putin
  • Media mogul is the third Russian oligarch to call for an end of Ukraine invasion
  • He asked Putin to ‘prevent any more young Russian soldiers dying needlessly’ 
  • Two Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman, 57, and Oleg Deripaska, 54, spoke out
  • Comes as oligarchs face economic chaos after West imposed severe sanctions 

A British-Russian media boss is the latest oligarch to speak out and call for an end to the conflict triggered by President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

Evgeny Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard newspaper alongside The Independent, condemned Putin’s invasion and ‘pleaded’ with him to ‘save the world from annihilation’ in an open letter.

The 41-year-old, who is the son of powerful former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, used the front page of the Evening Standard to address the Russian leader, making him the third oligarch to speak out against Putin in the last few days. 

Russia’s so-called oligarchs, who once exercised significant influence over President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, are facing economic chaos after the West imposed severe sanctions on Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Evgeny Lebedev (pictured), who owns the Evening Standard newspaper alongside The Independent, condemned Putin’s invasion and ‘pleaded’ with him to ‘save the world from annihilation’ in an open letter

The 41-year-old, who is the son of former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev, used the front page of the Evening Standard London newspaper to address the Russian leader, making him the third oligarch to speak out against Putin in the last few days

Russia’s so-called oligarchs, who once exercised significant influence over President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, are facing economic chaos after the West imposed severe sanctions on Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Russian-born crossbench peer, who is a long-term friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he wrote: ‘I plead with you to use today’s negotiations to bring this terrible conflict in Ukraine to an end.’

In a statement published alongside a photograph of a paramedic performing CPR on a girl injured by shelling, Lord Lebedev said: ‘On this page are the final minutes of a six-year-old child fatally injured by shells that struck her Mariupol apartment block on Sunday.

‘She is still wearing her pink jacket as medics fight to save her. But it is too late. Other children, and other families, are suffering similar fates across Ukraine.

‘As a Russian citizen I plead with you to stop Russians killing their Ukrainian brothers and sisters.’

‘As a British citizen I ask you to save Europe from war. As a Russian patriot I plead that you prevent any more young Russian soldiers from dying needlessly. As a citizen of the world I ask you to save the world from annihilation.

‘Today’s negotiations at the Ukraine-Belarus border provide a moment of hope. You can stop this conflict. Please seize the moment and end this war today.’ 

This news comes as Mikhail Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, and Oleg Deripaska also condemned Putin’s invasion by calling for peace talks  ‘as fast as possible’ between the two countries in an unusual intervention from Russia’s leading business elite.  

Mr Fridman, who is a co-founder of Russia’s largest private bank Alfa and controls private equity firm LetterOne, called for the ‘bloodshed’ to end.

Billionaire Mikhail Fridman (pictured), who was born in western Ukraine, said the war was a ‘tragedy’ for both countries’ people and told LetterOne staff in a letter that the conflict was driving a wedge between the two eastern Slav peoples of Russia and Ukraine, who have been brothers for centuries

The 57-year-old, who was ranked as the 128th richest person in the world by Forbes in 2021, also said the war was a ‘tragedy’ for both countries’ people and told LetterOne staff in a letter that the conflict was driving a wedge between the two eastern Slav peoples of Russia and Ukraine, who have been brothers for centuries.

He wrote: ‘I was born in Western Ukraine and lived there until I was 17. My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city.

‘But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses. I am deeply attached to the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.’

Meanwhile billionaire Mr Deripaska – who is the founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal in which he still owns a stake via his shares in its parent company En+ Group – used a post on Telegram to called for peace talks to begin ‘as fast as possible’. 

The 54-year-old simply said: ‘Peace is very important.’   

Oleg Deripaska (pictured) has also condemned Putin’s invasion by calling for peace talks ‘as fast as possible’ between the two countries in an unusual intervention from Russia’s leading business elite

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office announced they are preparing a ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs to be targeted by sanctions in the coming months and fears the conflict in Ukraine could last a decade.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there would be ‘nowhere left to hide’ for the super-rich allies of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Boris Johnson last week named eight high net worth Russians who will be hit by travel bans and asset freezes along with more the 100 individuals, entities and subsidiaries.

Separately the Home Office is going to give more power to the National Crime Agency to explore issuing Unexplained Wealth Orders to find out where money has come from.

Ms Truss said there would be new names added to the list every few weeks as ministers seek to ratchet up the pressure on Mr Putin following his invasion of Ukraine.

Washington also imposed sanctions on Deripaska and other influential Russians because of their ties to Putin after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, which Moscow denies. 

Putin, after consulting his security council of senior officials, said he ordered the special military operation to protect people, including Russian citizens, from ‘genocide’ – an accusation the West calls baseless propaganda.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says she has ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs targeted by sanctions

The Ukrainian president’s office said negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow would be held at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.

‘This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years,’ Fridman said.

‘While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end. I’m sure my partners share my view.’

One of Fridman’s long-term partners, Pyotr Aven, attended a meeting at the Kremlin with Putin and 36 other major Russian businessmen last week, the Kremlin said.

Another Moscow billionaire told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the war was going to be a catastrophe.

‘It is going to be catastrophic in all senses: for the economy, for relations with the rest of the world, for the political situation,’ the billionaire said.

The billionaires who gathered for a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin on Thursday were silent, he said.

‘Businessmen understand very well the consequences. But who is asking the opinion of business about this?’

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