GENEVA (Reuters) - Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky applied for a Schengen visa at the Swiss embassy in Berlin on Tuesday, the Swiss foreign ministry said.
Khodorkovsky, 50, has been staying in Berlin since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprise decision last week to free him after a decade in prison on fraud and tax evasion charges. Khodorkovsky has close ties to Switzerland.
“He made a request for a visa, which will be studied,” Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier told Reuters, speaking from the capital Berne. “One could imagine that he intends to come to Switzerland.”
The spokesman said the request was for a three-month visa.
Khodorkovsky’s second wife Inna has a home in Geneva, where several of his companies had operations, the Swiss daily Le Matin said on Tuesday, quoting the Russian state-run radio Voice of Russia.
Khodorkovsky, whose release from a Russian prison camp near the Arctic Circle and flight to Germany last Friday were shrouded in mystery reminiscent of the Cold War era, said on Sunday he had received a visa to stay in Germany for one year.
He gave no further information on the matter.
Germany is also part of the visa-free Schengen zone, which includes a majority of European Union member states and several countries outside the bloc including Switzerland.
Germany’s former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher played a key role in securing Khodorkovsky’s arrival in Berlin.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Gareth Jones