Russian oligarch’s holiday home blocked in Switzerland

Andrei Klishas, a Russian senator, has a large villa with a lake view in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino. But he no longer has the right to sell it:  it’s been blocked by the canton as part of sanctions against oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.

This content was published on May 13, 2022 - 09:00

The peaceful street in Brione sopra Minusio, near Locarno, is a world away from the destruction of the war in Ukraine that Klishas endorsed. A lawyer by training, he is the former president of Nornickel, a metallurgical giant with its main plant in Siberia.

Since his entry into politics he has supported the Kremlin, and as early as 2014 he was added to the sanctions list of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for expressly supporting the annexation of Crimea.

Klishas is a member of the Russian Senate and played an important role in the 2020 constitutional reform that ensured that Putin could remain in power. He is also known for his proposals to limit freedom of expression on the web. In 2019, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called him "a soldier of Putin in the war against the internet".

Support for the invasion of Ukraine

The senator is particularly active on the social networking app Telegram, where he runs a channel with over 6,000 members. According to Swiss Public Television, RSI, he recently stated that "without denazification, Ukraine does not and should not have a future as a sovereign state". And on the subject of sanctions, he said the actions of Western states "will not remain without retaliatory measures".

He purchased his Ticino property in 2008. The two-story villa has a total area of almost 1,000 m2 and an indoor swimming pool. The mayor of Brione sopra Minusio, Franco Gandin, claims that he has never seen the owner and was not aware of the blocking order for the villa, a move that prohibits its sale but not its use by the owner. Laws governing vacation homes owned by non-resident foreigners stipulate that they should be inhabited for at least a couple of weeks per year. However, Klishas is banned from entering the country.

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