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Nevzlin being tried for murder

The former president of the Russian Jewish Congress is being put on trial in Russia for murder.

Proceedings against former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin, who now lives in Israel, are scheduled to begin March 4 in Moscow, according to the Web site Jewish.ru.

The Jewish businessman and philanthropist is being charged with the ordering of multiple murders committed between 1998 and 2002, including those of Moscow businesswoman Valentina Korneyeva and Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov.

“Preliminary hearings in the matter will be put forth next Tuesday,” said Anna Usacheva, head of the press service of the Moscow City Court. “In accordance with the law, those preliminary hearings will take place in a closed courtroom.”

Nevzlin’s defenders say the charges are baseless and the trial is politically motivated.

Nevzlin, who fled Russia in 2003 as the Kremlin was beginning what many observers said was the politically motivated prosecution of his Yukos partner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is expected to be tried in absentia. In Israel, Nevzlin is considered one of the country’s wealthiest citizens.

The Russian Jewish Congress refused to comment on the trial.

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