MOSCOW, October 23 (RAPSI) – Russia's Supreme Court has ruled that the life sentence for YUKOS former security head Alexei Pichugin, who was convicted of masterminding several murders, was lawful and refused to amend it according to the ECHR judgment, RAPSI reports Wednesday from the courtroom.

Pichugin was sentenced in 2005 to 20 years in prison after a Russian court convicted him of having planned the 1998 assassination of Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov, as well as of the attempted assassination of former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky's adviser Olga Kostina that same year. He received a life sentence in a separate case in 2007 which was stacked on top of his 2005 sentence, though the latter was not an issue in the present ECHR case.

Pichugin had alleged to the ECHR that his right to liberty and security had been violated as he was arrested without reasonable suspicion, that his detention was delayed unreasonably, and that his appeals against this were not dealt with in a timely fashion.

He further charged that in violation of his right to a fair trial, he was not granted a public hearing, was not afforded the right to effectively challenge witness statements, and was not granted a fair jury trial in accordance with domestic law.

Last October, the court found that his rights to liberty and security and his right to a fair trial had been violated, and ordered Russia to pay €9,500.

The YUKOS case has been one of the most high profile in Russia in recent years. In the early 2000s, the authorities accused Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev of economic crimes. The arrests and trials of a number of other company members soon followed. YUKOS, then the country's largest oil company, was declared bankrupt and its assets were taken over by Rosneft. Many in the West believe that the case was politically driven, although Moscow denies the charges.