Russian court orders arrest of former businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.12.2015
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Russian court orders arrest of former businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The Russian Investigative Committee has issued an international arrest warrant for the Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He is accused of murdering the mayor of a Siberian town in 1998.

"Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been put on an international wanted list," said IC spokesman Vladimir Markin, according to Russia's official TASS news agency.

Earlier this month, Russian authorities charged the former head of Yukos Oil Company for the 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, a mayor in Siberia, along with the attempted murder of two other men.

Khodorokovsky spent a decade in prison after being arrested in 2003 on charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement.

He has maintained his innocence, with his supporters saying he was tried on trumped up charges due to a falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Khodorkovsky took to Twitter on Tuesday to comment on the allegations.

"The investigation is looking into who stole Yukos shares," the dissident wrote in Russian. "Let me give you a tip," he added, displaying a picture of the Kremlin.

In 2013, Putin pardoned him on an alleged condition that he refrain from participating in the country's politics. The former oil tycoon consequently fled the country, and currently resides in Switzerland.

Raids on rights group

The move comes a day after Russian investigators raided the offices of Open Russia, a pro-democracy group established by Khodorkovsky. At least seven employees of the organization had their apartments searched.

Investigators said they were searching for evidence in connection with Khodorkovsky's 2003 tax evasion case.

Russian activists claim that Russia has witnessed a crackdown on human rights following Putin's ascension to power.

ls/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)