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Russian-Israeli billionaire Leonid Nevzlin giving up Russian citizenship

Portrait of Leonid Nevzlin, a Russian-born Israeli business magnate, September 4, 2011. (Flash90)
Portrait of Leonid Nevzlin, a Russian-born Israeli business magnate, September 4, 2011. (Flash90)

Russian-Israeli billionaire Leonid Nevzlin says he is giving up his Russian citizenship amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nevzlin writes in a Facebook post that he can’t allow himself to remain a citizen of a country that is murdering the children of another nation.

“Everything Putin touches dies,” he writes.

Nevzlin has been a longtime critic of Putin and was forced to flee Russia.

Nevzlin is the most high-profile of the oil executive associates of Mikhail Khodorkovsky who fled Russian arrest warrants in 2003. Khodorkovsky, the onetime head of the Yukos oil giant, was jailed for several years after clashing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nevzlin was found guilty, in absentia, on several counts of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to life behind bars. In 2014, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Nevzlin accusing Moscow of carrying out “a ruthless campaign to destroy [him] and to expropriate [his] assets.”

In the years since, Nevzlin has established himself as an influential businessman and philanthropist. He was president of the Russian Jewish Congress, became chairman of the board of trustees at Beit Hatfutsot — the Museum of the Jewish People — and is a member of several bodies of the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. He also owns 25% of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

His daughter Irina is married to Yuli Edelstein, a top politician in the Likud party and himself a former political prisoner in the Soviet Union.

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