Ex-Menatep executive to appeal deportation

Former Russian banker Alexander Konanykhin intends to appeal the United State's decision last week to strip him of political refugee status.

The U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that Konanykhin must leave the U.S. within 30 days. Otherwise, he will be deported to Russia, where in 1994, he was accused of stealing $8 mln from the Russian Exchange Bank.

"I will not lose heart," Konanykhin said in an interview with RIA Novosti. "The first time the Justice Department adopted a similar decision on my deportation was seven and a half years ago, in June 1996. I hope the second round will be shorter." Konanykhin, head of the New York-based KMGI Internet company, does not intend to return to Russia. "Many people in the world and in the U.S. admit that there is political persecution in Russia." Alexander Konanykhin arrived in the United States in 1992, escaping, according to him, from the persecution of former secret agents working in the bank. In 1996, he spent 13 months in U.S. prison for violating the terms of the U.S. visa regime. The United States awarded Konanykhin political refugee status in February 1999.

In 1998, while investigating the disappearance of deposits from the European United Bank, registered in Antigua and Barbuda, the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention concluded that Alexander Konanykhin and Mikhail Khodorkovsky founded the bank.

Konanykhin believes that the U.S.'s decision to deport him is related to the Khodorkovsky case. "Possibly, this is a mere coincidence. After all, I was only vice president for international development in Khodorkovsky's company from 1993 to 1995."

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