Oleg Y. Tinkov was worth greater than $9 billion in November, famend as certainly one of Russia’s few self-made enterprise tycoons after constructing his fortune outdoors the power and minerals industries that had been the playgrounds of Russian kleptocracy.

Then, final month, Mr. Tinkov, the founding father of certainly one of Russia’s largest banks, criticized the conflict in Ukraine in a publish on Instagram. The subsequent day, he mentioned, President Vladimir V. Putin’s administration contacted his executives and threatened to nationalize his financial institution if it didn’t reduce ties with him. Final week, he offered his 35 % stake to a Russian mining billionaire in what he describes as a “determined sale, a fireplace sale” that was compelled on him by the Kremlin.

“I couldn’t focus on the value,” Mr. Tinkov mentioned. “It was like a hostage — you are taking what you might be provided. I couldn’t negotiate.”

Mr. Tinkov, 54, spoke to The New York Instances by cellphone on Sunday, from a location he wouldn’t disclose, in his first interview since Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine. He mentioned he had employed bodyguards after pals with contacts within the Russian safety providers advised him he ought to concern for his life, and quipped that whereas he had survived leukemia, maybe “the Kremlin will kill me.”

It was a swift and jarring flip of fortune for a longtime billionaire who for years had prevented working afoul of Mr. Putin whereas portraying himself as unbiased of the Kremlin. His downfall underscores the implications dealing with these within the Russian elite who dare to cross their president, and helps clarify why there was little however silence from enterprise leaders who, based on Mr. Tinkov, are fearful concerning the influence of the conflict on their life and their wallets.

Credit score…Alexey Malgavko/Reuters

Certainly, Mr. Tinkov claimed that lots of his acquaintances within the enterprise and authorities elite advised him privately that they agreed with him, “however they’re all afraid.”

Within the interview, Mr. Tinkov spoke out extra forcefully towards the conflict than has some other main Russian enterprise chief.

“I’ve realized that Russia, as a rustic, now not exists,” Mr. Tinkov mentioned, predicting that Mr. Putin would keep in energy a very long time. “I believed that the Putin regime was dangerous. However after all, I had no concept that it could tackle such catastrophic scale.”

The Kremlin didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Tinkoff, the financial institution Mr. Tinkov began in 2006, denied his characterization of occasions and mentioned there had been “no threats of any variety towards the financial institution’s management.” The financial institution, which introduced final Thursday that Mr. Tinkov had offered his total stake within the firm to a agency run by Vladimir Potanin, a mining magnate near Mr. Putin, gave the impression to be distancing itself from its founder.

“Oleg has not been in Moscow for a few years, didn’t take part within the lifetime of the corporate and was not concerned in any issues,” Tinkoff mentioned in a press release.

Mr. Tinkov has additionally run into bother within the West. He agreed to pay $507 million final 12 months to settle a tax fraud case in the US. In March, Britain included him on a listing of sanctions towards the Russian enterprise elite.

“These oligarchs, companies and employed thugs are complicit within the homicide of harmless civilians and it’s proper that they pay the value,” Overseas Secretary Liz Truss said on the time.

Mr. Tinkov is nonetheless extensively seen as a uncommon Russian enterprise pioneer, modeling his maverick capitalism on Richard Branson and morphing from irreverent beer brewer to founding father of one of many world’s most sophisticated on-line banks. He says he has by no means set foot within the Kremlin, and he has often criticized Mr. Putin.

However in contrast to Russian tycoons who years in the past broke with Mr. Putin and now stay in exile, resembling the previous oil magnate Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky or the tech entrepreneur Pavel Durov, Mr. Tinkov discovered a strategy to coexist with the Kremlin and make billions — at the very least till April 19.

That’s when Mr. Tinkov printed an emotional antiwar post on Instagram, calling the invasion “loopy” and deriding Russia’s navy: “Why would we now have military,’’ he requested, if every thing else within the nation is dysfunctional “and mired in nepotism, servility and subservience?”

Professional-war Russians posted photographs of their shredded Tinkoff debit playing cards on social media. Vladimir Solovyov, a outstanding state tv host, delivered a tirade towards him, declaring, “Your conscience is rotten.”

Credit score…Sergei Kivrin for The New York Instances

Mr. Tinkov was already outdoors Russia at that time, having departed in 2019 to obtain remedy for leukemia. He later stepped down and ceded management of Tinkoff, however stored a 35 % stake within the firm, which was valued at greater than $20 billion on the London inventory change final 12 months.

A day after the April 19 publish, Mr. Tinkov mentioned Sunday, the Kremlin contacted the financial institution’s senior executives and advised them that any affiliation with their founder was now a serious downside.

“They mentioned: ‘The assertion of your shareholder isn’t welcomed, and we’ll nationalize your financial institution if he doesn’t promote it and the proprietor doesn’t change, and in the event you don’t change the identify,’” Mr. Tinkov mentioned, citing sources at Tinkoff he declined to establish.

On April 22, Tinkoff introduced it could change its identify this 12 months, a step it claims was lengthy deliberate. Behind the scenes, Mr. Tinkov says, he was scrambling to promote his stake — one which had already been devalued by Western sanctions towards Russia’s monetary system.

Mr. Tinkov mentioned he was grateful to Mr. Potanin, the mining magnate, for permitting him to salvage at the very least some cash from his firm; he mentioned that he couldn’t disclose a worth, however that he had offered at 3 % of what he believed to be his stake’s true worth.

“They made me promote it due to my pronouncements,” Mr. Tinkov mentioned. “I offered it for kopecks.”

He had been contemplating promoting his stake anyway, Mr. Tinkov mentioned, as a result of “so long as Putin is alive, I doubt something will change.”

“I don’t consider in Russia’s future,” he mentioned. “Most significantly, I’m not ready to affiliate my model and my identify with a rustic that assaults its neighbors with none cause in any respect.”

Mr. Tinkov is anxious {that a} basis he began that’s devoted to enhancing blood most cancers remedy in Russia may additionally grow to be a casualty of his monetary bother.

He denied that he was talking out within the hopes of getting the U.Ok. sanctions towards him lifted, although he mentioned he hoped the British authorities would finally “appropriate this error.”

He mentioned that his sickness — he’s now affected by graft-versus-host illness, a stem-cell transplant complication, he mentioned — might need made him extra brave about talking out than different Russian enterprise leaders and senior officers. Members of the elite, he claimed, are “in shock” concerning the conflict and have known as him in nice numbers to supply help.

“They perceive that they’re tied to the West, that they’re a part of the worldwide market, and so forth,” Mr. Tinkov mentioned. “They’re quick, quick being became Iran. However they don’t prefer it. They need their youngsters to spend their summer season holidays in Sardinia.”

Mr. Tinkov mentioned that nobody from the Kremlin had ever contacted him instantly, however that along with the strain on his firm, he heard from pals with safety service contacts that he might be in bodily hazard.

“They advised me: ‘The choice concerning you has been made,’” he mentioned. “Whether or not that signifies that on high of every thing they’re going to kill me, I don’t know. I don’t rule it out.”