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Russia Demands That U.S. Extradite Yukos Figure

14 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia has demanded that the United States extradite Leonid Nevzlin, a key figure in the Yukos oil company and harsh critic of the Russian government who has been visiting Washington.

Yevgenii Khorishko, a Russian Embassy spokesman in the U.S. capital, is quoted as saying Nevzlin is a criminal charged with serious crimes and the Russian government wants him back in Russia.

Russian prosecutors have accused Nevzlin of serious crimes, including contract killings.

No immediate comment on the Russian request was available from the U.S. State Department.

Nevzlin addressed the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a U.S. government agency also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, in Washington on 13 July and said Russia is unqualified for membership of the Group of Eight (G-8) leading industrialized countries.

"Everybody should understand that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the people behind him -- the people from the FSB [Federal Security Service] -- understand only a position of strength," Nevzlin said yesterday. "In this regard my position is that Russia does not deserve to be in the G-8 because it is not a democratic country. There's no point in commenting about the economic criteria."

Nevzlin, a major shareholder in Yukos, fled Russia for Israel in 2003 as Russian authorities intensified their tax and criminal campaign against Yukos and its owners, including the company's now-jailed founder Mikhail Khodorkovskii.