Navalny ally Leonid Volkov announces ‘break from public activities’ over signed letter asking to lift sanctions against several Russian oligarchs

Head of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Foundation Leonid Volkov has announced that he would be taking a break from his “public socio-political activities in the capacity of the chairman of the board of the ACF International Foundation”, as per his official Telegram channel.

“In October 2022, I signed the following letter and sent it to the office of Josep Borrell. This letter was a big political mistake. Even worse, having signed it, I exceeded my authority — I didn’t sign it on behalf of myself, but on behalf of the organisation. I didn’t let my colleagues know [about my decision] and, consequently, I let them down,” Volkov writes.

Yesterday, 8 March, former editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow Alexey Venediktov posted a letter asking to lift sanctions against Alfa Group leaders that was addressed to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell. However, this letter is dated February 2023.

The letter names Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, Alexey Kuzmichev, and German Khan. The authors of the letter ask to lift sanctions against the billionaires, their argument being that the businessmen are not connected to the government and also invest a lot of money into the Ukrainian economy.

Aside from Volkov, the document was signed by TV Rain founder Natalia Sindeeva and co-founder Vera Krichevskaya, former Vice Prime Minister of Russia Alfred Kokh, opposition politician Leonid Gozman, journalists Sergey Parkhomenko and Leonid Parfyonov, businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin, and economist Vladislav Inozemtsev.

The letter published by Venediktov is dated February 2023. The letter posted by Volkov in his statement has a similar message as the one posted by Veneditkov. However, the only signature on the letter posted by Volkov is his.

According to Volkov, the letter was meant to create division among Russian elites, however, he was wrong. He apologised to his colleagues, supporters, and opposition politician Alexey Navalny, founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Initially, Volkov refused to confirm the authenticity of the document posted by Venediktov. “I didn’t sign the letter posted by Venediktov, my signature has been photoshopped. How and why Venediktov ended up with this letter in this form — I don’t know,” he previously tweeted. In his statement about taking a break, he repeated this sentiment, stating that he did not agree to his signature being used in the February letter.

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