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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Warrant Issued for Shefler

Moscow's Basmanny District Court issued an arrest warrant for a fugitive vodka tycoon, prosecutors said Thursday, the latest move in a long-running drive by the government to take back the overseas rights to the iconic Stolichnaya vodka brand.

The court upheld prosecutors' request for Yury Shefler, the head of the SPI group of companies, to be arrested to face charges that include using violence against an official and trademark violations, prosecutors said in a statement posted on their web site.

"Information on the personality of the accused gives grounds to assume that if he remains at large he could continue to carry out criminal activities, pressure witnesses and destroy evidence," the judge's decision said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Neither Shefler nor his lawyers could be immediately located for comment.

Lawyers for Soyuzplodoimport, a state-controlled company that controls the rights in Russia to the Stolichnaya brand and other Soviet-era favorites, have alleged that Shefler forged and destroyed documents in order to snap up Stolichnaya and other popular Soviet-era brands at a tiny fraction of their market value in a murky deal in the mid-1990s. They say the brands' previous owner -- a Soviet food and drink importer -- had been wrongly privatized and had no right to sell what Soyuzplodoimport general director Vladimir Loginov has called "an important part of Russia's national heritage."