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Dissident Russian Tycoon Calls Revolution 'Inevitable'

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, speaks during a webcast conference in London, and is seen on a TV screen in Open Russia movement office in Moscow, Dec. 9, 2015.

Dissident Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Wednesday that a revolution in his country is "inevitable," just days after Russian authorities summoned him for questioning as "the accused" in a 17-year-old murder case.

Addressing a conference in London, Khodorkovsky, the former head of Russia's Yukos oil company, accused President Vladimir Putin of having presided over a "full-fledged unconstitutional coup."

"Given the absence of fair elections and other mechanisms of a legal changeover of power, the only means of bringing it about is revolution," he said, adding that the country's remaining hard currency reserves and "the threat of repression" were only delaying an "inevitable" revolution.

"The question is how to make the revolution at least relatively peaceful and effective from the point of view of restoring democratic governance in the country," Khodorkovsky said.

Khodorkovsky was released from prison at the end of 2013 after Putin pardoned him, having spent a decade in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement - charges he and his supporters say were politically motivated.

He confirmed Wednesday that Russia's Investigative Committee had ordered him to appear Friday for questioning in the June 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, the Siberian city where Yukos had its largest production unit. Yukos' former security chief Alexei Pichugin is serving a life sentence for the murder of Petukhov and others. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2012 that Pichugin's right to a fair trial was violated.

After Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, Yukos was broken up for alleged failure to pay taxes, and its main assets were handed over to Russia's Rosneft state oil company. Yukos was declared bankrupt in 2006.

On Monday, Khodorkovsky connected Moscow's latest action against him to its unhappiness over a 2014 ruling by an international court in The Hague, which said Russia had wrongly seized Yukos and ordered it to pay former Yukos shareholders more than $50 billion in damages. The summons in the murder case, he said, was a way "to put pressure on Yukos shareholders."

He said the Kremlin is also unhappy about the activities of Open Russia, the foundation Khodorkovsky set up to promote civil society in Russia.