Russian tycoon Tinkov denounces 'crazy war' in Ukraine

(Note language that may offend some readers in paragraph 9)

LONDON (Reuters) – Wealthy Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov on Tuesday condemned what he called Moscow's "crazy war" in Ukraine, saying 90% of his countrymen did not support it and calling on the West to offer Vladimir Putin a dignified way to withdraw.

"I don't see a single beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying," Tinkov, who founded Tinkoff Bank, Russia's second biggest credit card issuer, wrote in an Instagram post, one of the most outspoken broadsides against the conflict by a Russian tycoon.

President Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what he calls a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" the country.

Kyiv and Western governments reject these arguments as false pretexts for an attack and have imposed sanctions against Russian companies and individuals – including Tinkov – in a bid to force Putin to retreat.

Several Russian billionaires have publicly called for peace, but many Russians have rallied to the Kremlin, which has whipped up support with a publicity campaign using the "Z" logo of the armed forces.

"Of course there are morons who draw Z, but 10% of any country are morons. 90% of Russians are AGAINST this war!" wrote Tinkov, who has denied having any close relationship with Putin or the Kremlin.

"Kremlin officials are shocked that neither they or their children will be off to the Mediterranean in the summer. Businessmen are trying to save the rest of their property," he said.

Russia's offensive in Ukraine quickly stalled in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance and Moscow has abandoned assaults on the capital Kyiv in the north of the country to launch a new offensive in the east.

"The (Russian) generals, waking up with a hangover, realized that they had a shit army," Tinkov wrote. "And how could the army be good if everything else in the country is shit and mired in nepotism, sycophancy and servility?"

Switching to English, Tinkov wrote: "Dear 'collective West' please give Mr. Putin a clear exit to save his face and stop this massacre. Please be more rational and humanitarian."

Tinkov owns around 35% of Cyprus-based TCS Group Holding, whose stable of companies under the Tinkoff brand span sectors from banking and insurance to mobile services. The company's share price has plummeted this year.

Tinkov, 54, stepped down as chairman of Tinkoff Bank in 2020. TCS said last month Tinkov did not occupy any decision-making position and sanctions against him would not affect the company.

It is not clear whether Tinkov is currently in Russia.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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