Exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been placed on an international wanted list over the 1990s murder of a Siberian mayor.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been living in exile in Europe since he was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 for fraud after 10 years in jail.
Russia’s once-richest man said the authorities had “gone mad”.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky is accused of ordering several of his employees to kill both the mayor and a businessman, who survived.
Investigators allege Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, was killed on June 26, 1998, for demanding Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s oil firm, Yukos, pay taxes that the company had been avoiding.
Local businessman Yevgeny Rybin was allegedly targeted because his activities “clashed with Yukos’s interests”, Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee (SK) said in a statement as it announced his arrest in absentia.
Yevgeny Rybin survived a gun attack in November 1998 and a second attack on his car in March 1999, when another man in the vehicle was killed and several people were injured.
Five people have already been tried for the attacks and the arrest warrant is unlikely to make any difference unless Mikhail Khodorkovsky returns to Russia.
Armed police raided the Moscow offices of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia pro-democracy movement on December 22, in a move that authorities said was linked to allegations of tax evasion. The flats of at least seven activists who work for Mikhail Khodorkovsky were also searched.
The exiled oil tycoon, who now spends much of his time in London, has repeatedly criticized Vladimir Putin in recent months. He said December 22 raids were acts of intimidation and the sign of an “authoritarian regime” nearing its “inevitable” end.
In further comments on December 23, Mikhail Khodorkovsky said the authorities were acting like bandits: “They’ve gone mad. I realized that yesterday.”
After Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, Yukos was broken up and taken over by a state oil firm.
In 2014, an international arbitration court in The Hague said Russian officials had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos, and jail Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The court told Russia to pay former shareholders in Yukos $50 billion in compensation.