MOSCOW, January 13 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court on January 27 will consider an appeal against the arrest in absentia of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russian tycoon turned political opposition figure, who stands charged with organizing the murder of Nefteyugansk mayor Vladimir Petukhov in 1998, Yunona Tsareva, RAPSI learnt in court on Wednesday.

On December 23, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Khodorkovsky and put him on the international wanted list.

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, YUKOS's former security chief, was found guilty of murdering Petukhov and received 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 was 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 Khodorkovsky went to Berlin on a chartered flight.