Russian-born Businessman: I Met Poisoned Ex-spy Litvinenko in Israel

Spy allegedly passed documents to Leonid Nevzlin, a former executive of the Russian oil company Yukos.

Yossi Melman
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Yossi Melman

Russian-born businessman Leonid Nevzlin, former CEO of the Yukos oil company and current chairman of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, said Friday that he had met in Israel with former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died Thursday in London from poisoning.

During the meeting, Litvinenko allegedly passed Nevzlin documents containing classified information possibly damaging to the current leadership in Russia.

In Nevzlin's estimation, Litvinenko's murder was tied to the information relating to Yukos contained in the documents. Nevzlin has turned the documents over to the London Metropolitan Police, who are investigating the murder.

British police announced Friday that traces of a radioactive substance, Polonium 210, were found in Litvinenko's urine. Polonium 210 is known to be highly lethal and very difficult to detect.

Litvinenko served until 1998 as a colonel in the Federal Security Services of Russia as part of a special unit that carried out investigations and special operations against businessmen. A few months before his murder, Litvinenko arrived in Israel in order to pass the documents to Nevzelin.

The Government of Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Nevzlin, arguing that he is wanted for tax evasion, budget irregularities, and for connection to the murder of the mayor a Siberian town where Yukos was operating.

It appears at this time that Litvinenko was murdered because of his association with Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist who was shot to death in her apartment on October 7. Politkovskaya had also been a harsh critic of Putin's

Nevzlin and his business partner Michael Hodrokovsky, who is incarcerated in a Russian prison, were formerly large shareholders in Yukos, once one of the largest holding companies in Russia, as well as one of the largest oil companies in the world.

After the struggle of the company's owners against Putin's administration, and their support of opposition parties hostile to the Russian president, the government opened a series of investigations against the company, eventually resulting in the company's bankruptcy, and the imprisonment of Hodrokovsky and Platon Levedev, an additional business partner in Yukos.



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