Lithuania refuses to extradite ex-Yukos shareholder to Russia
( RIA Novosti ) - Lithuania denied Russia's request to extradite a fugitive Yukos shareholder and granted him an immunity status, a Vilnius prosecutor said Saturday.
The Moscow Basmanny Court ruled in March 2004 to detain former Yukos shareholder Mikhail Brudno in absentia and issued an international warrant on his arrest. Brudno is suspected of the involvement in the embezzlement of over $6.8 billion from the former Yukos subsidiaries.
"Upon analyzing the materials on the Yukos case, we have concluded that this case is politicized and Mikhail Brudno has been persecuted, may be because of other people involved in the Yukos affair, and we have decided that the charges against him are politically motivated," Laima Cekeliene said in a video interview with Lietuvos rytas daily.
Russia has requested Brudno's extradition following his arrival to Lithuania from Israel where the fugitive oligarch has a residence near Tel Aviv and owns a stake in a petrochemical plant near Haifa on the Mediterranean coast.
Brudno is well-known in Lithuania because of his participation in the talks on the acquisition of a stake in Mazeikiu nafta oil refinery from the U.S. company Williams International in 2002.
The fugitive Yukos shareholder denies all accusations against him and claims he has become a victim of the Kremlin's campaign against Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky, who acquired oil assets through controversial privatization deals in the early 1990s, is serving an eight-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion in the Chita region in eastern Siberia.
Once the largest oil producer in Russia, the Yukos empire collapsed after claims of tax evasion, which led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of its assets were subsequently bought by government-controlled oil company Rosneft.