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Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky cheers people during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, March 9, 2014. Khodorkovsky, addressing a crowd on the square where demonstrators rose up against Ukraine's Moscow-backed president, said on Sunday Russia had been complicit in police violence against the protesters. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) / Efrem Lukatsky

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The man who was once Russia's most famous prisoner says Russia is ruining its longstanding friendship with Ukraine by its aggressive and pro-separatist actions in Crimea.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky made the remarks in a lecture to students at Kiev Polytechnic University on Monday.

"We are losing Ukrainian-Russian friendship" because of Russian actions, Khodorkovsky said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to have any dealings with the new Ukrainian leaders who replaced fugitive pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych.

But Khodorkovsky expressed support for them, saying they came to power thanks to "a revolution of justice."

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's wealthiest man, was pardoned last December by Putin. Many believe he was convicted of tax violations and other crimes and sent to prison on trumped-up charges.

"Ukraine must become a European state," the former tycoon told the students. For that to happen, Khodorkovsky said there must be foreign investment, eradication of corruption and a modern-day Marshall Plan of international assistance

He also called for establishing a congress of Ukrainian and Russian intellectuals to boost ties.

On Sunday, Khodorkovsky almost wept as he assured a large crowd in Kiev's center not to believe that all Russians support their government's actions in Crimea.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Oil tycoon Khodorkovsky backs Ukraine's new leaders

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