The Russian oligarch Leonid Nevzlin left Russia in 2003 and lives in Israel. Why this country can be a plan B for oligarchs. Leonid Nevzlin was a software developer in the Russian Ministry of Geology in the 1980s, then founded one of the first Russian private banks before becoming vice president of the oil company Yukos in 1996.
In the early 2000s, according to Forbes magazine, he was one of the 100 richest people in the world. When Putin comes to power, top executives are arrested. That's when the businessman with Jewish roots fled to Israel and has been living there ever since.
He recently renounced his Russian citizenship and is now an Israeli citizen, working in independent journalism. "No medium or large company can act free from Putin's influence" "I currently find it shameful to be Russian," says Nevzlin in an interview with "Spiegel"
He cannot approve of this war and supports the Ukrainian resistance. "Putin's Russia is no longer mine," said the 62-year-old. If he hadn't gone to Israel after Putin seized power in 2003, he would still be in prison today – like former Yukos manager Alexei Pitushgin.
In his absence, Nevzlin had been charged and sentenced to life imprisonment. If he returned to Russia, the sentence would be carried out. Putin's Russia is a "fascist mafia state," said Leonid Nevzlin. Once companies in Russia exceed a certain size, they cannot continue without Putin's approval, Nevzlin added.
"There is not a single medium-sized or large company that can act completely free of state influence. If you want to do business, you have to give up a part of your treasury."
Sanctions against Russian businessmen
But not only does Nevzlin has Israeli citizenship.
Oligarchs like Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Fridman, and Viktor Abramovich are Israeli citizens, although - according to Newsline - they were not interested in the country for a long time. However, in order to secure the goodwill of Jewish organizations in Israel, but also worldwide, said gentlemen invested money in religious institutions.
Almost as an emergency exit if the "Putin system" were to collapse. For Nevzlin, however, they "will never be Israelis." In fact, Nevzlin would prefer Israel to sanction Russian businessmen with Jewish roots.
Especially those who made their money under Putin's regime. This is especially true against the background that Israel has not (yet) closed its hands-on Western sanctions against Russia.