Russian billionaire staying in Scottish castle calls Putin ‘modern-day Hitler’
A Russian with a billion-pound fortune who lives in a castle in Scotland has said Western powers should not be afraid of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Dr Boris Mints, who was born in Moldova but rose to prominence after the fall of the Soviet Union, said the Russian president was turning into a modern-day Hitler.
The billionaire is said to have previously been a key Putin ally, but he described the war in Ukraine as “the most tragic event of the 21st century”.
The businessman and philanthropist said the justification for invading Ukraine was “barefaced lies”.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail through a translator, he called for further action to stop the war.
He said, “The West not only should, but must stop being afraid.
“If we don’t act, we will be outside observers of manifestations of lawlessness, of the death of innocent people and therefore, to some extent, complicit in this.
“The history of the Second World War has shown the tragic consequences of a war both for the countries initially involved and for those who initially tried to maintain the status of outside observers.
“Today, the same fate awaits us, if we act as mere observers.”
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The father-of-four Mints and his family live in exile and divide their time between London and his baronial castle in Perthshire, Lethendy’s Tower in Meikleour.
He bought the 39-acre estate, which has its own golf course, in 2016 through a family trust.
US pop star Taylor Swift is also said to have been interested in the castle, which has been put on the market for bids of over £4.6million.
The property is said to have been at the center of a legal attempt by the Putin regime to recover interest linked to the currencies.
The doctor added: “He [the invasion] is the most tragic event of the 21st century to date, equivalent to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.
“It should be noted how similar the ‘apologies’ are for yesterday’s and today’s invasions, both of which are based on outright lies.
“In my view, this is a display of impunity – in this case expressed in the most aggressive form.
“After Putin’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, Russia has repeatedly carried out actions that flagrantly violate the norms of international law, but without any significant negative consequences.
“If it is possible to annex Crimea without punishment, according to this logic, the same can happen to the whole of Ukraine and so on.”
The Moldovan-born businessman rose to prominence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and had ties to former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.
It was reported he was fighting extradition to his home country and fled to the UK in 2018 on charges of embezzlement in Russia.
But Dr Mints denied he was at risk of extradition and said Interpol had rejected Russia’s requests for his arrest.
In 2018, he was one of 210 Russian personalities on the US Treasury Department’s “Putin list”.
However, his relations with the Russian regime have reportedly deteriorated.
Dr Mints added: “Sensible Russians are adamantly opposed to invading Ukraine and there is plenty of evidence that they are in the majority.
“It is impossible not to recognize that the number of people with opposing views is not small.
“As Adolf Hitler said, ‘The more monstrous the lie, the more easily they believe it.’
“Unfortunately, this formula works flawlessly in Russia 80 years later.”
Dr Mints is the founder of the Cyprus-based O1 Group and is believed to be among a group of super-rich Russians who can travel freely within the European Union using their Maltese passports.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing demands to seize a luxury Highland estate owned by the son of a key Putin ally.
Superyacht enthusiast Yevgeniy Strzhalkovskiy bought Knockdow House on the Cowal Peninsula for
just under £4million in 2017.
The 12 bedroom property is set in ornamental gardens with 250 acres of woods and fields overlooking the Kyles of Bute and Arran.
Strzhalkovskiy’s multimillionaire father, Vladimir, was a senior KGB officer with Putin in St. Petersburg.
He is one of a number of wealthy Russians who own land and property in Scotland.
Labor MP Paul Sweeney has tabled a motion at Holyrood demanding that the Scottish Government urgently audit Russian ownership of businesses, land and property – and speed up legislation allowing its confiscation if it is linked to the corrupt Russian regime.
Sweeney said: “I’m hearing a lot of political gestures right now – statements of solidarity with Ukraine but not a lot of action.
“If we really want to do something meaningful, we have to hit the Russian elite in their pockets to turn against Putin.
“If there are estates like this owned by very wealthy Russians who have clear ties to Putin, I think we should grab them.
“I believe the powers to do this may already exist in Scotland. If not, we should urgently introduce legislation to do so.
“If we are truly in support of the Ukrainian people, we need actions not words from our governments at Holyrood and Westminster.”
Knockdow House, near Dunoon in Argyll, has been marketed as a ‘beautifully situated residential estate’ in the heart of Scotland’s ‘secret coast’.
It is currently on the market as a luxury rental property for millionaire clients and is accessible via a single narrow road from Dunoon or by yacht or helicopter.
In 2017, Strzhalkovskiy gave the address of a law firm in Monaco on title deeds and the cadastre website has not changed hands since then.
Vladimir Strzhalkovskiy served as a KGB colonel alongside Putin in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg. The 76-year-old continued his career in business and government, which flourished after Putin came to power in 1999.
He held several government posts before becoming managing director of Norilsk Nickel, a multi-billion pound mining and smelting company.
He received a payment of £70m and went to the Bank of Cyprus before being replaced in 2015 as
Vice President by Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor who later became Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce.
He was a board member of the Russian Geographical Society, alongside Putin and some of Russia’s most powerful business owners.
Oligarchs like Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and travel and metals giant Alexei Mordashov both moored yachts off the Cowal Peninsula around the time Strzhalkovskiy bought Knockdow.
The Sunday Mail attempted to contact Strzhalkovskiy yesterday.