Russian businessman Alex Konanykhin has placed a $1 million bounty on the head of Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging Russian officers to arrest their president as a “war criminal.”
“I promise to pay $1,000,000 to the officer(s) who, complying with their constitutional duty, arrest(s) Putin as a war criminal under Russian and international laws,” Konanykhin wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week.
Konanykhin went as far as questioning Putin’s legitimacy as the Russian president, noting that “he came to power as the result of a special operation of blowing up apartment buildings in Russia,” while violating “the Constitution by eliminating free elections and murdering his opponents.”
The California-based businessman said that “as an ethnic Russian and a Russia citizen, I see it as my moral duty to facilitate the denazification of Russia.”
He vowed to “continue my assistance to Ukraine in its heroic efforts to withstand the onslaught of Putin’s Orda,” using the Russian word for “horde.”
The original post was later deleted by Facebook, which Konanykhin said was because it included a “dead or alive” poster depicting the Russian president.
However, on Thursday the Russian entrepreneur clarified in a LinkedIn post that he never intended to pay for Putin’s assassination.
“Some reports suggest that I promised to pay for the assassination of Putin. It is NOT correct. While such an outcome would be cheered by millions of people around the world, I believe that Putin must be brought to justice,” Konanykhin wrote.
He encouraged others to take a stand against Russian aggression and Putin specifically.
“If enough other people make similar statements, it may increase the chances of Putin getting arrested and brought to justice,” he told news outlet Insider.
Having left Russia in 1992 as a young businessman worth $300 million, Konanykhin has had several unpleasant encounters with Russian authorities since, the most notable being embezzlement charges brought against him by the Russian Exchange Bank in the 1990s.
Asked by Insider whether he feared retaliation from Putin, Konanykhin said that while “Putin is known to murder his opponents, he has millions of them now.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a backlash from other Russian billionaires, most of whom are feeling the weight of the Western-imposed sanctions on the Russian economy.
Ukrainian-born financier Mikhail Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men, on Sunday told employees at his private equity firm LetterOne that “war can never be the answer” and called for the “bloodshed” to end.
Fridman, who divides his time between London and Moscow, was the first oligarch to speak out against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I do not make political statements, I am a businessman with responsibilities to my many thousands of employees in Russia and Ukraine,” he said. “I am convinced however that war can never be the answer. This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years.”
AFP contributed to this report.