Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch and oil tycoon, has said that he is considering asylum in the U.K.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Khodorkovsky said President Vladimir Putin sees him as a serious threat ahead of Russian elections scheduled for next year.

Wednesday’s statement came after a Russian court declared the Putin critic to be under arrest in absentia for the 1990s killing of a Siberian mayor. 

Khodorkovsky – who lives outside Russia – told the BBC: “I'm considered by President Putin as a threat, economically, because of the possible seizure of Russian assets abroad, and politically, as someone who will potentially help democratic candidates in the coming 2016 election.”

Russia will hold elections to the lower house of parliament next year. Putin's supporters currently dominate the 450-seat Duma.

Khodorkovsky also claimed that within 10 years the regime in Russia would be changed and that he hoped to play a significant role in this.

After spending 10 years in prison for tax evasion, embezzlement and fraud, Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Putin in 2013.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, has been living in exile since then. Today, he is accused of ordering employees to kill both Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk and local businessman Yevgeny Rybin.

Petukhov was killed in June 1998; Rybin survived two bids on his life, in 1998 and 1999.