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Russian MP Zhirinovsky expects extradition of fugitive tycoons

MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Oligarchs on the run from Russian justice overseas, including in Israel, will eventually be extradited to Russia, a senior Russian MP said Thursday.

Commenting on reports that ex-Yukos executive Leonid Nevzlin, who is wanted in Russia on murder charges, had lost his post as chairman of the Israel Diaspora Museum Board of Trustees, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that the Israeli authorities understood that the tycoons were impeding relations.

"Israel realizes that its relations with Russia are not improving because people like [Arkady] Gaidamak and Nevzlin live there, and [Vladimir] Gusinsky also visits from time to time," said Zhirinovsky, a deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, shortly after returning from a visit to Israel.

"Of course they [Israeli authorities] will gradually strip them [the oligarchs] of all privileges and they will ultimately be returned to Russia - Gusinsky, Nevzlin, [Boris] Berezovsky, and a bunch of guys from Yukos," he said.

According to reports in Israeli media, the Association of Diaspora Museum Employees called for Nevzlin's dismissal, saying they were concerned that the board of trustees of such a respected organization was headed by a person who was on the international wanted list and whose name figured in a number of high-profile criminal cases, including on masterminding a series of contract killings.

Nevzlin is resident in Israel because he also holds Israeli citizenship in addition to his Russian passport.

According to the media reports, the last straw for the museum employees apparently came with Interpol's recent decision to lift restrictions concerning the arrests of several Russian businessmen, including Berezovsky and Nevzlin.

Interpol has said this means that this group of Russian citizens, placed on the international wanted list by the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia, must be arrested immediately as suspects in serious crimes and must be extradited to Russia under a court ruling.

The museum's press service confirmed that its employees had asked the museum legal adviser to have Nevzlin removed from his position as chairman of the board of trustees. Press Secretary Asia Reuveni acknowledged that the scandals around Nevzlin damaged the museum's good name and added that despite its financial dependence on the multimillionaire, the museum was ready to give it up.

At least one Israeli expert said that the campaign for Nevzlin's extradition to Russia had now entered a new level. Rights activist Yakov Maniovich said that a broad public front had opened in the drive for his extradition rather than being the realm of idealistic loners.

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