Among Russia’s oligarchs and business leaders, there are few who have publicly backed away from President Vladimir Putin over his war of aggression against Ukraine. Now, two prominent financial entrepreneurs have taken a clear stand against Putin – Oleg Tinkov, founder of Russia’s Tinkoff Bank, and Nikolay Storonsky, head of Britain’s neobank Revolut, have renounced their Russian citizenship.
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Monday, Russian-born fintech founder Nikolay Storonsky announced he had renounced his Russian citizenship earlier this year
Tinkov founded Tinkoff Bank in the 2000s, which was considered an international pioneer with its digital strategy and went public in London in 2013. This year, Tinkoff had to sell his 35 percent share significantly below value under pressure from the Kremlin after criticizing the war course. Now Tinkov is going a step further: as he first wrote on Instagram on Monday, he had renounced his citizenship “after Russia invaded Ukraine and started killing innocent people.” He said he could not be “associated with Putin’s fascist regime.”
Also on Monday, Russian-born fintech founder Nikolay Storonsky announced he had renounced his Russian citizenship earlier this year. Storonsky is the founder and CEO of Revolut, a British smartphone bank with global ambitions. Revolut’s long-term goal is to offer all financial services from a single source, preferably “in every single country in the world,” Storonsky told Capital in an interview in May.
Mikhail Fridman is co-founder of Alfa Bank and founder of Letterone, an investment firm active in telecommunications, technology, and energy. According to the company, the Ukrainian-born Fridman wrote to Letterone employees calling for an end to the bloodshed. “I am convinced that war can never be the solution,” Fridman wrote. The oligarch is also affected by EU sanctions.
Storonsky has lived in London for about 15 years and has since become a British citizen. Forbes estimates his fortune at $7.1 billion – with nearly 20 million customers and a company valuation of $33 billion, his financial start-up Revolut is one of the largest neobanks in the world, almost as valuable as Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank combined.
Sanctions against Nikolay Storonsky’s father
The fact that Storonsky just now made his decision public is probably no coincidence: his father, also named Nikolay Storonsky, who was born in Ukraine, had sanctions imposed on him by the Ukrainian government in October because of his senior position at Gazprom subsidiary Promgaz. Thus, his Ukrainian assets were frozen and he was barred from entering the country of his birth, according to the British Telegraph.
When asked, Revolut said only that CEO Storonsky’s stance on the Ukraine war was public knowledge. “The war is absolutely abhorrent, and he remains resolute in calling for an immediate end to the fighting,” a spokesman said. Sources close to him said Storonsky’s move was intended to show his support for Ukraine.
After the outbreak of war, Storonsky had criticized the Russian invasion as “utterly despicable” and ended Revolut’s business in Russia and Belarus. “I was in London when I heard about the invasion,” the founder told Capital in May. It was “terrible,” he said. At the time, the company still had about 50 employees in Ukraine and about 200 in Russia, mostly developers. He said the company brought most of the affected workforce from the two countries and supported them as best it could. A new location had been opened for them in Dubai, he said.
“Russian nationality is not synonymous with the regime,” he said in May – but by then he had already given up his citizenship, as it now turns out. “Every Russian now feels a certain sadness and feels a sense of responsibility.”
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