Andrei Sidelnikov says he is making a list of suspected Putin supporters to share with the British government
A London-based anti-Putin campaigner has called on Boris Johnson to freeze the assets of thousands of Russian citizens in the UK in a bid to weed out those with links to the Kremlin.
Andrei Sidelnikov said he told the prime minister to seize the properties and bank accounts of émigrés with unexplained wealth, connections to the Russian embassy in London, ties to pro-Putin oligarchs, and those involved in organizing related cultural events. to the Russian state.
Sidelnikov, a former associate of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated in London in 2006, said his assets should be seized while corruption investigations are carried out, adding that he was compiling a list of suspected Putin supporters he would be shared with the UK. Government.
The opposition activist said his campaign group, Speak Up!, had founded a new project called Revenge, aimed at collecting the names of Russian émigrés who support Vladimir Putin.
“From this moment on, all the people who supported this criminal regime must answer for this,” said Sidelnikov, who was granted political asylum in Britain in 2008 after telling authorities his life would be in danger if he stayed in Russia. “[If we] do not close those doors to the supporters of the criminal Putin regime, then the war will come to our homes.”
In a letter sent to Johnson after Russia invaded Ukraine last month, Sidelnikov also called on the UK government to cancel diplomatic relations with Russia, stop granting visas to Russian citizens until stricter immigration controls are put in place and pressure NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
He added that British lawyers and financiers who helped corrupt Russian émigrés should face tougher legal sanctions. “In the future, it must be a crime to have relations with Russians who support the fascist regime.”
Although the activist admitted there was a danger such action could fuel Russophobia in the UK, he added: “The problem is that there are so many [many] Russian citizens who supported Putin’s criminal regime. It is very difficult to find them because there are thousands, not 10 or 100 or 700.
“The Russian community is very angry at what I say because many of them have ties to the Putin regime.”
Sidelnikov said that before the Ukraine invasion he had sent the prime minister a list of 99 Russian citizens who lived in the UK and supported Putin.
Since the invasion, he said, more than 100 names have been added to this database, adding that his organization will continue to collect information on allegedly corrupt Russian émigrés during the war.
“The plan is to give this not only to UK authorities, but also to authorities in other countries, including the European Union and the United States,” he said.
The activist said the names included people who had not been publicly identified as supporters of Putin.
“We know those people who are living here and there are no sanctions for them,” he added. “They are trying to corrupt British society.”
He said a task force made up of police, security services, government officials and parliamentarians should be set up to investigate those accused of corruption.
Sidelnikov, 46, added that some émigrés in the UK were now pretending they had never supported the Russian president.
“Some people are changing after all the years they supported their regime, and now they’re putting on their Facebook, oh we don’t want war, we’re not for war.”
The activist predicted that Russia would lose the war with Ukraine. But he expected Putin to retain the presidency for the foreseeable future.
“There is no opposition,” Sidelnikov said. “Some of them were killed like my friend Litvinenko. Many of my friends are in prison now. Some of them escaped from Russia.”