Gaydamak Asks for Russian Citizenship Ahead of Arms-dealing Verdict

Russian-Israeli billionaire had relinguished Russian citizenship when he immigrated to Israel in the 1970s.

Senior Kremlin officials said business tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak lodged a request Wednesday in Moscow for Russian citizenship.

The officials said the billionaire hopes to receive a passport within days, ahead of the March 4 verdict in a French court over his involvement in the "Angolagate" arms-dealing affair. Prosecutors are seeking an extended prison sentence.

Gaydamak was forced to relinquish his Russian passport in the 1970s upon emigrating to Israel, after which he spent 17 years in France. Gaydamak is reportedly hoping Russian citizenship will complicate potential efforts to have him extradited from the country to France.

Earlier in the year, Gaydamak suffered steep financial losses, which forced him to try to sell off a number of his business holdings. He has also been embroiled in an investigation against him for alleged fraud and money-laundering through Bank Hapoalim.

This month, Yossi Milstein, Gaydamak's former media advisor, was arrested by the Israel Tax Authority for allegedly evading payment of NIS 1.2 million in income taxes.

Milstein was Gaydamak's right-hand man for years, until the Russian businessman fired him three months ago at the height of an Israel Securities Authority investigation into Gaydamak's dealings. Milstein found out he was fired only after securities authority investigators informed him of it, and after he heard about it in the media.