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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos Fugitives Feted in U.S.

Itar-TassVladimir Dubov
Two of the country's top fugitives arrived in Washington to attend Thursday's prayer breakfast with President George W. Bush, defying an international arrest warrant put out by Russian prosecutors.

After receiving assurances from U.S. officials that they would not be extradited, Mikhail Brudno and Vladimir Dubov traveled to Washington on Wednesday, sources familiar with the visit said.

Brudno and Dubov, who fled to Israel more than a year ago, are shareholders in oil major Yukos and face similar charges as former company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was imprisoned in October 2003.

The two oligarchs, now Israeli citizens, were invited to Washington by Republican Representative Tom Lantos, a prominent critic of Kremlin policy, to attend a National Prayer Breakfast and meet with government officials.

"There is significant interest in us," Brudno said, speaking by phone from Washington on Thursday. "[U.S. politicians] see us as sources of information on what is going on in Russia, with business in Russia and with Yukos."

"Mikhail Khodorkovsky used to come and speak here every year. But now, since that is not possible, we decided to accept the invitation," Brudno said.

Leonid Nevzlin, another exiled Yukos shareholder wanted in Russia, was also invited, a source in the U.S. Congress said Thursday. Brudno and Dubov had a private session with Lantos and were scheduled to meet with officials from the State Department and National Security Council.

All three men fled Russia after authorities apprehended Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev and issued warrants for their arrest.

The international game of hide-and-seek took a twist on Monday, when Brudno and Dubov appeared on an Interpol wanted list as suspects sought for extradition to face fraud charges in Russia.

As a result, Brudno and Dubov delayed their trip to Washington by a day, said a source close to Yukos' parent company, Group Menatep.

Brudno declined to comment on prosecutors' efforts to have him and Dubov extradited. He also refused to comment on the authorities' tax case against Yukos.

"Obviously the Russian government wanted to stop Brudno and Dubov from testifying before the United States Congress," the Menatep source said.

"The effort failed, however. After a great deal of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity on Tuesday, Dubov and Brudno arrived in Washington on Wednesday. They have been assured that the U.S. government will not act on the Russian Interpol notice."

Interpol notices to its 182 member police organizations are nonbinding, leaving a nation's authorities to choose whether or not to proceed with a detention.

Brudno said that he was planning to return "home" to Israel.

The Prosecutor General's Office, which forwarded the request for the men's detention to Interpol, declined to comment on the U.S. authorities' decision not to act on the warrant.

Russia's track record with extraditing suspects has been patchy. Authorities have failed to extradite exiled tycoons Vladimir Gusinsky, last known to live in Spain, and Boris Berezovsky, who resides in London. Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, who received political asylum in Britain, has also been out of reach of Russian courts.