'Everything Putin Touches Dies': Businessman Leonid Nevzlin Renounces Russian Citizenship

'Russian citizenship in itself has turned into a mark moral turpitude that I no longer want to carry,' says Nevzlin, who left Russia for Israel two decades ago

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Leonid Nevzlin, in 2009.
Leonid Nevzlin, in 2009.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Billionaire Leonid Nevzlin, an Israeli citizen and Haaretz shareholder, announced on Tuesday that he is renouncing his Russian citizenship in protest of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

“Everything that Putin touches dies,” Nevzlin wrote in a Facebook post, lamenting that "Russia has become too fascist."

Nevzlin, who own 25 percent of Haaretz's shares and sits on the Israeli publication's board of directors, added: "Russian citizenship in itself has turned into a mark moral turpitude that I no longer want to carry … I’m against the war. I’m against the occupation. I’m against the destruction of the Ukrainian people."

"I’m an Israeli citizen, and if I were to consider another citizenship, I would be proud to receive a Ukrainian passport,” he said.

According to Nevzlin, “I cannot allow myself to be the citizen of a country that kills the children of another country, and who tortures its own children that disagree with their acts.”

Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that two million people — half of them children — have fled the country in the less than two weeks since Russia invaded.

Nevzlin, 62, was one of the earliest young entrepreneurs in Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. He founded the Yukos oil company along with businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Nevzlin also served in a number of public positions, including as president of the Russian Jewish Congress.

In 2003, Nevzlin left Russia and made aliyah to Israel after Yukos and its senior executives were targeted by Vladimir Putin’s government. Later, he was tried in absentia for criminal conspiracy to murder and was convicted in 2008.

The Russian government asked Israel to extradite him, but the Justice Ministry opposed the extradition request, deciding that all the evidence was inadmissible. The Supreme Court, which ruled on an appeal to deport Nevzlin, backed the Justice Ministry’s opinion and ruled the evidence was unsubstantiated and “did not justify the filing of a petition to the court to order Nevzlin’s extradition.”

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