Russian oligarch renounces citizenship, says it’s ‘become a stamp of shame’

A Russian-born oligarch and former oil tycoon who fled to Israel nearly two decades ago after being targeted by Vladimir Putin’s government announced on Tuesday he was renouncing his citizenship following the invasion of Ukraine via Moscow.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Leonid Nevzlin said if he got a second citizenship he would be honored to be part of Ukraine.

Russian citizenship has already become a seal of shame on itself, which I no longer want to bear on myself,” he wrote. “I can’t afford to be a citizen of a country that kills children from other countries and tortures their children who don’t agree with it. I am against war. I am against the occupation. I am against the genocide of the Ukrainian people.”

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He described Russia as a “fascist state” and that everything Putin “touched was dead”.

He noted that his self-identification comes from his Russian cultural roots and language.

Nevzlin founded the oil company Yukos after the collapse of the Soviet Union with businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He fled to Israel in 2003 after the company and senior executives were targeted by Putin.

“All these years, like many, I compromised by keeping this passport,” Nevzlin wrote. “I was one of the first to be hit by Putin. He threw my friends in jail and killed some of them.”

Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on money laundering and tax evasion charges that many Westerners believe were false. Nevzlin was convicted in absentia in 2008 of criminal association for murder.

The Russian government has asked Israel to extradite him, but has so far refused to do so, Haaretz reported. The White House has targeted several other Russian oligarchs who support Putin for sanctions.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Khodorkovsky said Russia had moved from authoritarian to totalitarian rule. He says he expects a regime change

“The regime will change, there’s no doubt about it. Before, it could take 10 or 20 years, now it’s happening much faster. Ukraine has found its Achilles heel,” he said. “He was playing this alpha male who never loses. Now he’s clearly taking a military defeat.”

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