MOSCOW, December 11 (RAPSI) – Former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been charged in absentia with organizing the murder of Nefteyugansk mayor Vladimir Petukhov in 1998, RIA Novosti reported on Friday.
Investigators have also charged Khodorkovsky with attempted assassination of Petukhov’s bodyguard Vyacheslav Kokoshin and manager of East Petroleum HandelsGes mbh oil company Evgeny Rybin.
In the near future, Khodorkovsky will be put on the wanted list as he failed to appear in the Investigative Committee for interrogation, according to the Committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin.
According to investigators, a criminal group killed several people between 1998 and 2002, including Petukhov, on orders from former Yukos shareholder Leonid Nevzlin. In 2009, Nevzlin, who moved to Israel in 2003, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. Alexei Pichugin, former chief of economic security at Yukos, was found guilty of murdering Petukhov and receive a life sentence in 2008.
The murder of Petukhov provoked a public outcry 17 years ago, when several media outlets speculated that he was directly involved in the re-division of Russia’s oil assets. Investigation into Petukhov’s murder case was not closed but suspended.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order releasing Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement, on December 20, 2013. The same day, the released tycoon went to Berlin on a chartered flight.