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The state has informed the High Court of Justice that the Interior Minister of the new government that will be formed after the March 28 elections will consider the request to strip so-called Russian oligarch Leonid Nevzelin of his Israeli citizenship.
It also said it was examining the Russian government's request to extradite Nevzelin, a former owner of the Yukos oil company, regarding whom Russian police have issued an arrest warrant.
The statements came in response to a petition by Russian journalist Yuli Nudelman calling on the government to rescind Nevzelin's citizenship because he allegedly lied to Israeli immigration authorities when he told them he was not wanted for questioning by Russian police. He is wanted in Russia on suspicion of having committed serious crimes such as arranging murders and committing acts of fraud and tax evasion.
According to Nudelman, the arrest warrant was issued at the beginning of 2004, after he failed to show up for an interrogation in late July. Nevzelin arrived in Israel on July 30, 2003 and was granted Israeli citizenship on November 2.
Nudelman's lawyer, Yoram Moshkat, wrote in the petition that in the case of someone who makes a false declaration, "the Interior Ministry may cancel his immigration document and citizenship in accordance with the Citizenship Law and the Entrance to Israel Law."
Moshkat also said the government had refused to confirm to the petitioner that the Russian government had asked for Nevzelin's extradition.
In its reply to the court, the state wrote that "this extradition request, like all such requests, requires complex and cautious work by those trained to do so and is examined by the International Department of the State Attorney's Office which takes into account the Extradition Law and judicial rulings on the matter. After the government reaches a final decision on the request, the Russian prosecutor will be notified, as is customary."
Nevzelin maintains that the arrest warrant against him was issued at the orders of President Vladimir Putin as part of an intimidation campaign against political reformists.