Fugitive Russian boss of oil firm returns to Ingushetia

The exiled founder of the Russneft oil company returned to Ingushetia for more than two years to escape criminal charges, which were dropped.

Fugitive Russian boss of oil firm returns to Ingushetia

The founder of the Russneft oil company on Friday returned to Ingushetia on Friday after living abroad in exile for more than two years to escape criminal charges, which have since been dropped.

A spokesman for the leader of Ingushetia told Reuters Mikhail Gutseriyev had arrived back in his homeland and would meet President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

"He spoke by phone to the president and they agreed to meet up after holidays (Victory Day, May 9-10)," Khalid Tankiyev said.

The rehabilitation of Gutseriyev in the eyes of the authorities appears to be linked to the role the billionaire might play in calming tensions in the region.

Krelim-appointed Yevkurov told Echo Moskvy radio station he hopes Gutseriyev will be able to help the republic.

"I hope we will find a common language with him and will help each other... He is gifted by God as a manager and businessman... I hope his abilities and these qualities will help attract some investment to the republic," he said.

Gutseriyev fled in 2007 after being accused of tax fraud and seeing his son die under mysterious circumstance.

Russia removed Gutseriyev from an international wanted list in November in a move many analysts interpreted as a precursor to his return. Last month the criminal case against him was dropped.

A source close to Gutseriyev told Reuters the businessman's long-term plans were to stay in Russia.

"It is a private visit. He has been away from his motherland for quite long and wants to see his son's and parents' graves."

"He plans to live and work in Russia."

In January, ownership of Russneft reverted back to Gutseriyev, one of a number of once powerful business tycoons that lost assets and were forced to seek refuge abroad during President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on so-called oligarchs in the early 2000s.

The Washington-based Jamestown Foundation said late last month Moscow wanted help from Gutseriyev to pacify the republic.

"One such method could be using Mikhail Gutseriyev's money and expertise to invest in and develop the region," it said.

"Apparently, Moscow is so desperate that it even pressed Russian rivals of Gutseriyev to relinquish control over his assets to lure him back into the country," the Jamestown Foundation said.


Last Mod: 08 Mayıs 2010, 00:11
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