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Russia puts Khodorkovsky on international wanted list: investigators


Mikhail KhodorkovskyRussian investigators said on Wednesday that top Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky had been put on the international wanted list as Moscow ramps up pressure on a leading critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier this month the Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Putin, charged the former oil tycoon in absentia with organising the 1998 murder of a mayor in Siberia, a move supporters say is aimed at silencing the self-exiled Kremlin foe.

Khodorkovsky, 52, was also charged with the attempted murders of two other people.

“Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been put on the international wanted list,” spokesman for the Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said in a statement.

He also said that following a request from investigators a Russian court had ordered the arrest of the former tycoon, who lives abroad and spends much of his time in London.

Khodorkovsky’s spokeswoman Kulle Pispanen dismissed the announcement as political pressure, adding it would not affect him.

“Mikhail Borisovich will by no means limit his movements because of the hysterical actions of the Kremlin ghouls,” Pispanen told AFP, referring to the former business magnate by his first name and patronymic.

Markin on Wednesday reiterated the charges against Khodorkovsky.

On Tuesday, investigators raided the apartments of employees of Khodorkovsky’s Moscow-based Open Russia group, set up to help nurture civil society in the country, as well as its offices.

The searches appeared tied to a 2003 case which led to the criminal prosecution of one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs and the dismemberment of his Yukos oil company which have become defining events in Putin’s presidency.

The Investigative Committee has said it is also checking the information provided in a Paris appeals court by shareholders of now-bankrupt Yukos, who are seeking $50 billion in damages from Russia and convinced the court to back the freezing of Russian assets in France.

Khodorkovsky spent a decade in prison on charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement which he and his supporters say were trumped up in revenge for his political ambitions.

He was suddenly pardoned by Putin in 2013 and flown out of the country.

As investigators announced earlier this month they planned to press new charges against Khodorkovsky, the Putin critic called a news conference in London, saying revolution in Russia was inevitable.

“The investigation is looking into who stole Yukos shares,” Khodorkovsky said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Let me give you a tip,” he added, next to a picture of the Kremlin.

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