LONDON, May 22 (UPI) -- Calling the Ukraine crisis a "slow-burn civil war," Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky called for an easing of sanctions against Russia.
Speaking to the BBC, Khodorkovsky said further sanctions against Russia would isolate the country and play into the hands of nationalists. He urged instead that European Union countries should concentrate on helping strengthen and stabilize Ukraine, which, he said, would encourage change in Russia.
He also warned Russia could become more authoritarian if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates and Russian President Vladimir Putin can exploit a power vacuum in the country.
Khodorkovsky was regarded as Russia's wealthiest man after buying and operating the Yukos oil company, until he fell out of favor with the Kremlin. He was arrested in 2003 for tax evasion, embezzlement and fraud, and was bankrupted and jailed for 10 years. He has lived in Germany since his 2013 pardon.