The major shareholders in the YUKOS oil company are ready to hand their shares in the company, whose value is estimated at $14.6bn, over to the government of Russia in exchange for the liberation of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former chairman of the YUKOS Executive Board, and Platon Lebedev, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the MENATEP company. A co-owner of YUKOS Leonid Nevzlin, who is currently in Israel, announced this proposal, the RBC television channel reported with reference to Bloomberg. "If this could guarantee their liberation, we would give up our shares," Nevzlin declared. "There can be only one guarantee: they should be set free first, and then our withdrawal (from the company) will follow," added Nevzlin, who has 8 percent of the shares in YUKOS.
Another shareholder, Vladimir Dubov, who is also in Israel, has also expressed readiness to exchange his block of shares for the liberation of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. Dubov remarked, "Price does not matter; people are important; there are more valuable than money." "Our actions are determined by the Kremlin's strategy; we are just responding," he underlined. According to Nevzlin, the government is certain to try to deprive the present owners of YUKOS of their shares. "They will stop the process of destruction only when they manage to get these shares," Nevzlin declared.
Criminal cases have been filed against all major shareholders in YUKOS now. According to information from the General Prosecutor's Office of Russia, 10 people have been added to the international wanted list in connection with the "YUKOS case" so far. These people include the major shareholders, such as Leonid Nevzlin, Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brudno. They are charged with tax evasion and some other crimes.