Russia seeks UK extradition of former oil chief charged with tax evasion

[JURIST] Russian authorities have asked Britain to extradite former Russneft [corporate website] oil company head Mikhail Gutseriyev, according to a Russian Ministry of the Interior [official website] spokesman Monday. Citing systematic government 'persecution' [BBC report], Gutseriyev resigned [RIA Novosti report] from Russneft in July 2007 amid Interior Ministry accusations of tax evasion and illegal business practice. The following month, Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court froze all Russneft shares [IHT report] and the Tverskoi Court issued an arrest warrant for Gutseriyev, but he had already fled the country. A Russian Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson confirmed [Interfax report] Monday that Russia filed an official extradition request with the UK Home Office [official website] on July 29, but said that no response has been received. The British embassy in Moscow did not comment on the request. Gutseriyev, who has maintained his innocence, would face up to six years in prison if convicted. The Moscow Times has more. RIA Novosti has additional coverage.

The UK currently has a strained relationship with Russia, due partly to Russia's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoy [JURIST news archive], the man suspected of administering poison in London to kill former KGB agent and British citizen Alexander Litvinenko [JURIST news archive; BBC timeline], so that he could stand trial for murder [JURIST report] in the UK. In July, a UK intelligence official said that there are "very strong indications" that the Russian government was behind the murder [JURIST report]. Russian officials say the Russian constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens for criminal trials in other countries [JURIST report]. Britain has previously refused Russian extradition requests for suspects identified as being in the United Kingdom, including Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakayev [JURIST report] and business tycoon Boris Berezovsky [BBC report; JURIST news archive].

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