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.
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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.
Russia has protested over the seizure of the Russian state assets in Belgium, a move triggered by a court ruling over the now-defunct Yukos oil company.
The Belgian ambassador to Moscow was told that the asset seizure was “an openly hostile act” that “crudely violates the recognized norms of international law”.
In 2014, a court told Russia to pay Yukos shareholders $50 billion in compensation, after Yukos’s break-up.
A Russian state company took over Yukos.
In July 2014, an international arbitration court in The Hague said Russian officials had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos, and jail its boss, the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
France has also seized Russian state accounts in about 40 banks, along with eight or nine buildings, AFP news agency reports.
In a statement on Facebook, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in detention in Russia, expressed joy at the asset seizures.
“I am not a beneficiary in this process as the partners redeemed my share back in 2004. But this does not prevent me from sincerely rejoicing, as a Russian citizen, at what is happening now.
“This is a symbolic moment for our country,” Mikhail Khodorkovsky said, calling it “a signal that theft will not escape punishment, no matter how all-powerful the thief was”.
According to a Russian foreign ministry statement, Russia demanded that Belgium reverse its asset seizure. If no such action was taken, Russia warned, it would consider “appropriate reciprocal measures” against the Belgian embassy and unnamed Belgian officials.
Earlier, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev ruled out any compensation for Yukos shareholders. Their interests are now represented by a Gibraltar-registered holding company, GML.
Russia is appealing against the court ruling of last July, Alexei Ulyukayev said.
The asset seizures in Belgium and France also affect Russian media, including TASS news agency and state broadcaster VGTRK, Russian media report.
GML manager Tim Osborne was quoted in French media as saying similar legal action was being taken against Russian state assets in the UK and US.
Platon Lebedev, the former business partner of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, with whom he was jailed in 2005, will be released, Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered.
Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky were convicted of tax evasion and theft after funding opposition parties and falling out with President Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky last month, but Platon Lebedev, who was due for release in May, did not seek a pardon and stayed in jail.
The Russian Supreme Court ruled that his sentence should be reduced and that he would be able to walk free on Friday.
“Release Lebedev,” Supreme Court Judge Pyotr Serkov declared in the ruling, after reducing his sentence so that it amounted to time served.
Platon Lebedev and his former business partner Mikhail Khodorkovsky were jailed in 2005
Both men’s convictions remain in place, despite repeated appeals.
It did not change a court order under which Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky must pay 17 billion roubles ($500 million) in tax arrears.
That debt is an obstacle to Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s return to Russia after leaving for Germany in December.
The releases are believed by many to be part of a drive to improve Russia’s international image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics next month.
Other prominent inmates freed in the past few weeks included two women from the Pussy Riot protest group, jailed over the performance of a “punk prayer” critical of Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox church.
Platon Lebedev used to head NFO Menatep, while Mikhail Khodorkovsky ran oil giant Yukos and was once Russia’s richest man.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been released from jail following a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin, his lawyers say.
Vladimir Putin signed a decree earlier pardoning former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on the basis of “the principles of humanity”.
He said on Thursday that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 50, had asked him for clemency because his mother was ill.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky – in custody for a decade – was jailed for tax evasion and theft after funding opposition parties.
The pardon comes after Russian MPs backed a wide-ranging amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been released from jail following a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin
Analysts say Vladimir Putin may be trying to ease international criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
A document published by the Kremlin on Friday said the decree would come into force from the day of its signing.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said prison officials had confirmed that had left the he penal colony where he was being held in the Karelia region of north-western Russia.
The former tycoon had eaten lunch at the prison in Segezha as normal on Friday while his release papers were being drawn up, Russian news website Lenta.ru reports quoted an official as saying.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was jailed after being convicted of stealing oil and laundering money in 2010. He had been in prison since 2003 when he was arrested and later convicted on charges of tax evasion. He was due to be released in August 2014.
President Vladimir Putin has announced he will soon pardon jailed former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The Russian president said he had received a request from Mikhail Khodorkovsky – in custody for a decade – to pardon him on humanitarian grounds as his mother is ill.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s representatives said they needed to meet him before commenting but that the family would be “elated to see him finally freed”.
On Wednesday, MPs backed a wide-ranging amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners.
Speaking to reporters after his annual news conference in Moscow on Thursday, Vladimir Putin confirmed the amnesty would apply to the two members of punk band Pussy Riot still in prison and Greenpeace activists detained for their protest at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic.
Analysts say Vladimir Putin may be trying to ease international criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of February’s Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 50, and fellow defendant Platon Lebedev were convicted of stealing oil and laundering money in 2010. They were already serving time for tax evasion.
As head of the now defunct oil giant Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man.
President Vladimir Putin has announced he will soon pardon jailed former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Vladimir Putin said he had not received a request from Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the past.
“And then quite recently he wrote such a document and addressed a request for a pardon to me,” Vladimir Putin said.
“He has already been in detention more than 10 years, this is a serious punishment and he is referring to humanitarian circumstances as his mother is ill.
“I think given the circumstances we can take the decision and very soon the decree to pardon him will be signed,” Vladimir Putin said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP news agency the request had been personally “signed” by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s mother, Marina, said she did not know about any clemency request by her son.
“I spoke to Mikhail last Saturday for about three minutes, but we did not discuss this. He only asked about my health,” she said.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky is currently scheduled to leave jail next August. His supporters have long argued he is a political prisoner.
A statement from his press centre reads: “Until his legal team can meet with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, it cannot be commented on whether a request on a pardon was made, by whom and for what reasons.
“All of his family and supporters would of course be elated to see him finally free after 10 years of imprisonment.”
The amnesty passed in the State Duma on Wednesday covers at least 20,000 prisoners, including minors, disabled people, veterans, pregnant women and mothers.