Russian Prosecution Accuses Jewish Oligarch of Ordering 10 Murders

Leonid Nevzlin is accused of the murder of 10 Russian citizens and the attempted murder of others.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has resubmitted its request to Israel for the extradition of Leonid Nevzlin on suspicion he commissioned the murder of 10 Russian citizens and the attempted murder of others.

The draft of the request obtained by Haaretz, which is signed by M.A. Andreyev, the deputy director of the Department for the Investigation of Grave Crimes, says that the prosecution is handing over to Israel additional background material pertaining to asking to extradite and try Nevzlin. The Jewish businessman hopes to avoid extradition by using Israel as a safe haven. In a conversation with Haaretz, a senior official from the prosecutor's office in Moscow confirmed the existence and the validity of the document but refused to elaborate any further about the intricate case in question.

Officials in Israel have pointed out that the document was drawn up by the Russians on July 7, shortly after Nevzlin left for the U.S. on July 3, which was not coincidental. Nevzlin traveled to the U.S. to testify before the U.S. Senate Helsinki Committee about the state of democracy and human rights in Russia, in connection with the Yukos case in particular. The extradition request was sent to the U.S. while Nevzlin was there, but did not interfere with his appearance before senators and Congressmen.

Nevzlin, 45, one of the chief shareholders in the Yukos oil company and the partner of Mikhail Khodorkovski, who was sentenced to nine years in prison, left Russia two years ago in the wake of the Yukos affair, and received Israeli citizenship. From his base here, he is waging a relentless political campaign against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has gained the attention of the U.S. administration and international human rights organizations.

Nevzlin has also gained influence in the heart of the Israeli establishment. As opposed to other Russian oligarchs Nevzlin has not limited himself to contributing to the Russian-speaking community in Israel, but has earned respectability with large donations to institutions such as the Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv University and the United Israel Appeal. He has also established the Nadav Fund, whose name is an acronym formed by the initials of his own name and that of Yukos' other two shareholders who have found shelter in Israel, Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brodno.

Although a previous extradition request mentions suspicions of murder, the new one alleges a broad conspiracy and murderous acts, which resulted in deaths and in other instances in physical injury.

One case refers to a double murder of the Gorin couple, while Gorin is presented in the prosecution's document as responsible for several murders before he and his wife were killed on November 20, 2002. Gorin allegedly possessed evidence implicating Nevzlin in commissioning murders. Therefore, the document claims, Nevzlin conspired with one Pichugin (mentioned in connection with all the murders and attempted killings) to murder Gorin himself.

According to the prosecution's document, unidentified people arrived at the home of the Gorin family on Yasna street in the city of Tombov, trapped the children in the bathroom, and when the parents returned home, shot them and removed the bodies to an unknown place.