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Russia's Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a life sentence for former
Russia's Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a life sentence for former Yukos shareholder Leonid Nevzlin, sentenced to life in absentia for murder and attempted murder.

Nevzlin has also been ordered to pay more than 5.5 million rubles ($235,000) in compensation to the victims and their families.

Nevzlin was a close adviser to Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is currently serving a prison term for tax evasion and fraud in East Siberia. Khodorkovsky said his imprisonment in 2005 was punishment for his political ambitions and part of the Kremlin's drive to regain control of lucrative energy assets.

Investigators say that between 1998 and 2002, members of an organized criminal group led by Nevzlin murdered, among others, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, where Yukos's main production unit was based, and businesswoman Valentina Korneyeva, who stood in the way of the oil giant's interests.

Nevzlin, who fled to Israel in 2003 and subsequently obtained Israeli citizenship, has repeatedly denied the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

A state prosecutor said Russia could again demand the convict's extradition from Israel. Previous requests were denied by Israel, which demanded more evidence of Nevzlin's guilt.

State Prosecutor Alexander Koblyakov also said Nevzlin could serve the sentence in Israel.

Once Russia's largest oil producer, Yukos collapsed after charges of tax evasion led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of the company's assets were bought up by state-run oil company Rosneft.


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