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Known for his outspoken comments when he was involved in professional cycling, former WorldTour team boss Oleg Tinkov has turned his attention to what he terms the ‘crazy war’ in Ukraine.
Referring to those who support the war by painting the Z symbol as “morons,” he said that 90 percent of Russians oppose the conflict, that the country’s generals have a “shitty army,” and called on the west to give Russian president Vladimir Putin an off ramp to end the conflict.
“I don’t see ANY beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying,” he stated in an Instagram post shared Tuesday. “The generals woke up from a hangover, realized they have a shitty army. And how will the army be good, if everything else in the country is shit and mired in [nepotism] and servility?” he said.
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The Russian oligarch is among those sanctioned by the UK on March 24, the measure causing his personal assets to be frozen.
However his Tinkoff Bank remains unsanctioned, according to Business Insider, and this has enabled money to flow in and out of Russia from Western tech companies since the start of the war.
“Kremlin officials are shocked that not only they but also their children will not go to the Mediterranean in the summer,” he continued in the same Instagram post. “Businessmen are trying to salvage what remains of [their] property. Of course there are morons drawing Z, but morons in any country [number] 10%. 90% of Russians are AGAINST this war!
“Dear ‘collective West,’ please give Mr Putin a clear exit to save his face and stop this massacre. Please be more rational and humanitarian.”
Tinkov’s comments carry a degree of personal risk.
Russia has cracked down on any criticism of the war, arresting those publicly demonstrating for peace and passing a law last month enabling jail sentences of up to 15 years on those who it says are spreading ‘fake’ news about the military. He is one of the few members of Russia’s elite to speak out publicly against the conflict.
The 54-year-old previously stated his opposition to the war. On March 1, he stated that “innocent people are dying in Ukraine now. It is unthinkable and impermissible. Governments should be spending money on curing people, on trying to defeat cancer, not on war. We are against this war.”
Forbes previously reported in March that the conflict had caused Tinkov’s personal wealth to plummet by more than $5 billion in the space of a month, dropping to an estimated $800 million. Another Russian oligarch with links to cycling, UCI board member Igor Makarov, has been sanctioned by the Canadian and Australian governments.
Responding to his Instagram post, Tinkoff Bank has moved to distance itself from its founder. It posted on Telegram that it wasn’t going to comment on what it termed the “personal opinion of Oleg Tinkov, expressed by him on social networks.
“Oleg Tinkov has not been a decision-maker in the Tinkoff Group companies for many years,” it said in the statement, according to Business Insider.
“He is not a Tinkoff employee, he has not been to Russia for a long time, and has been taking care of his health in recent years,” a statement read. “Oleg Tinkov is one of our 20 million clients. We know that our clients think differently, and we respect their right to their own opinion, whether we support it or not.”
S&P Global reported two years ago that Tinkov stepped down as chair of Tinkoff’s board. A Tinkov family trust held an 84 percent stake in the company, although the bank’s website stated that those voting rights were reduced to a 35 percent stake after the shares were converted in January 2021.
The former Tinkoff-Saxo team sponsor has been battling acute myeloid leukemia in recent years. He has also had other difficulties, pleading guilty last October 1st to tax fraud in a criminal case in the US and agreeing to pay more than $500 million in penalties.