Founder of Russia's biggest neobank Tinkoff blasts Putin’s ‘crazy war’

By Amelia Isaacs on Wednesday 20 April 2022

Digital Banking

Fintech entrepenur Oleg Tinkov branded the ‘10 per cent’ of Russians who support the invasion of Ukraine ‘morons’.

Founder of Russia's biggest neobank Tinkoff blasts Putin’s ‘crazy war’
Image source: Tinkoff Bank/CC BY-SA 4.0.

Sanctioned former billionaire Oleg Tinkov has denounced Putin’s war in Ukraine, calling for an end to “this crazy war”.

The founder and former chairman of Russia’s leading neobank, Tinkoff Bank, has been living outside of his home country in recent years.

The Russian commercial bank has no physical branches and was modelled off of US Capital One bank.

In a moment of rare public criticism from a Russian elite, Tinkov shared his rage in an Instagram post.

“I do not see ONE beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying,” he wrote in Russian.

He said that Russian generals are realising they have a “shitty army” and questioned how it could be good if “everything else in the country is shit and mired in nepotism and servility”. 

Tinkov went on to claim that “90 per cent of Russians are AGAINST this war”, describing those who support it and have been writing the propaganda letter “Z” as “morons”.

Addressing what he called the “collective West” in English, he ended by saying, “Please give Mr. Putin a clear exit to save his face and stop this massacre. Please be more rational and humanitarian”.

Tinkov was sanctioned by the UK on March 24 but has yet to be hit by the US or the European Union. 

He lost his billionaire status after his fortune fell by more than $5bn in less than a month after his namesake Tinkoff Bank fell from a high of $23bn in November to just over $1bn at the start of March.

Making it very clear in another Instagram post six weeks ago that he is not an oligarch, Tinkoff distanced himself from the "98 out of 100 Forbes List Russia” who he claims used connections to the “parasitic” government to earn their money.

He confirmed that the second reason to remove him from the category is that he is no longer a billionaire.

“I’m just a customer, just like you,” he wrote, directing all questions to the Bank and clarifying he is now just a small shareholder and founder, having not held a position there for more than a year.

Three days after Tinkov's post, co-CEOs Oliver Hughes and Pavel Fedorov left the company.

They are now starting a fintech focused on emerging markets in Southeast Asia, and have been replaced by Stanislav Bliznyuk.

“The bank's management believes that at this time it is imperative for our Russian resident team to have full operational control over the Group's Russian business in the best interests of our customers, shareholders and all stakeholders,” Bliznyuk said.

“I have been working in Tinkoff Bank since 2006, as have my colleagues, and we are taking full responsibility for management of the Russian business going forward.”

The neobank took to messaging app Telegram to address Tinkov’s comments.

“Oleg Tinkov is one of our 20 million clients. We know that our clients think differently, and we respect their right to their own opinion, whether we support it or not,” it said in a post.

It said that the company could and would not comment on his personal views, that he has not been in Russia for “a long time” and has been taking care of his health in recent years.

Skirting around the issue of the war itself, the statement said, “We can argue in search of the right solutions, but in any situation, the client is more important to us than discussions”.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the change in Tinkoff Bank's CEO which took place two days after publication. The article previously stated Oliver Hughes as the current CEO of Tinkoff Bank.

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