Moscow: A Russian court has issued an international arrest warrant for exiled tycoon and prominent Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky after he was charged with murder earlier this month.
Investigators accused Mr Khodorkovsky of involvement in the 1998 killing of a Siberian mayor. He has dismissed the claims as completely untrue.
The issue of the warrant comes a day after Russian police raided the offices of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement founded by Mr Khodorkovsky, who now lives in Switzerland.
The 52-year-old, once Russia’s richest man through his control of the Yukos oil company, likened the raids to Soviet-era repression and suggested they were linked to critical comments he had made about president Vladimir Putin. Mr Khodorkovsky spent a decade in prison on tax evasion and embezzlement charges after falling out with Mr Putin. He says the trial was politically-motivated.
Since his release in 2013 he has spent much of his time in London and continued to oppose the Kremlin from exile. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement police had concluded that Mr Khodorkovsky had ordered subordinates to kill Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, in 1998.
Mr Markin said the motive was financial and linked to Mr Petukhov’s demands for Yukos to pay taxes he said it was avoiding.