Russia Seeks Arrest Of Khodorkovsky

A Russian court has ordered the arrest of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky in relation to a murder nearly 20 years ago.

The warrant, issued on December 23, claims Khodorkovsky ordered the murder of Vladimir Petukhov, mayor of the oil-producing Siberian town Nefteyugansk, and entrepreneur Yevgeny Rybkin back in 1998.

Russia_Vladimir_Petukhov

Vladimir Petukhov

Khodorkovsky became the richest man in Russia through Yukos, which capitalized on the sale of state-owned assets following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian investigators claim the hit was part of a scheme to cover up non-payment of taxes.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were arrested in 2003 for embezzlement and tax evasion. This happened not long after Khodorkovsky, an outspoken critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, began to put together an effort to enter Russian politics. The two men were convicted in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Yukos was dismantled and sold off to state-owned firms while Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were in prison.

While serving their prison term, both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in a second criminal case in December 2010 and sentenced to 14 years in prison, with account taken of the jail term they had served.

Khodorkovsky was pardoned by President Putin and left prison in December 2013. Lebedev was released in early 2014.

Media reports at the time claimed Khodorkovsky vowed in writing to remain out of Russian politics. President Putin has said the tycoon still has the right to be a part of the political system.

The Moscow offices of Khodorkovsky’s political party, Open Russia, were raided by armed police on December 22. Some of its employees’ apartments in Moscow and St. Petersburg were also raided the same day, and documents were confiscated.

Officials claim the raids were in relation to a legal case launched in 2003 relating to the “illegal” privatization of the mining and fertilizer company, Apatit.

Khodorkovsky, who now spends most of his time in Switzerland, blasted both the arrest warrant and raids as a return to the Soviet era. He is reportedly looking for political asylum in the UK.

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