New book about political prisoner Aleksei Pichugin

posted 16 Apr 2017, 12:30 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Apr 2017, 12:35 ]
12 April 2017


The second edition of the book by Vera Vasilieva, a correspondent of, Aleksei Pichugin - Roads and Crossroads. A biographical sketch is about a former employee of the company, YUKOS, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and recognized as a political prisoner by the Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow).

Eleven years ago Vera Vasilieva first became interested in this case involving Yukos’ former head of department of economic security when Moscow City Court began the second trial of Pichugin. The first edition of her book was published at the end of 2011 by the Prague publishing house “Human Rights Publishers”. This is a story about a man who became a hostage in the war for the control of oil resources and who maintained his honour and dignity in this war without rules. It is about how Pichugin, under pressure in the key moments of his trial, by his own admission, drew strength for his struggle from colleagues, supporters, family and friends.

This second edition, was prepared with the participation of Novaya gazeta, with the personal involvement of Dmitry Muratov, its editor-in- chief. It is supplemented by a narrative about everything that has happened to Aleksei Pichugin since 2011.

The main events of this narrative include the following. In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the right of a convicted person to a fair trial had been violated and it could only be restored by a new trial. Subsequently, a year later the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation refused to comply with that judgment. Aleksei Pichugin was unexpectedly moved from “The Black Dolphin” "(Prison Colony No.6 in the town of Sol-Iletsk in Orenburg region), where he had been held from 2008 to 2016, in early July last year to Moscow's Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre. There were house searches and summonses to interrogation made to Aleksei Pichugin’s younger brother and their mother Alla Nikolayevna, and many other harassments.

In addition, the author completely reworked her chapter "The Black Dolphin". After the publication of the first edition of the book, Vera Vasilieva visited Sol-Iletsk three times. From these visits she managed to bring back not only many photographs of the prison colony and its environs, but also pictures of the residents of the town where there is hardly a soul who hasn't themselves worked in the "Black Dolphin" or who don’t have any relatives or acquaintances who have done. Also included in the book is the testimony of a former cellmate of Aleksei Pichugin about Pichugin and his life in the penal institution.

Further remarkable evidence is in the form of a letter from a person close to the investigation, stating that the investigative team working on the Pichugin case is not conducting an objective investigation. According to this source, the investigators are required to collect only incriminating evidence, rejecting any evidence in favour of the innocence of representatives of the out-of-favour oil company.

According to Vera Vasilieva, the real highlight of the new edition is the drawings and illustrations of artist Anastasia Zbutska, who "does not simply reproduce reality but shows the artist's relationship to it, thereby giving the text a greater expressiveness.”

On 4th April 2017, it was reported that political prisoner Aleksei Pichugin had been returned to the Black Dolphin after a nine-month stay in Lefortovo. Independent observers assumed that Pichugin had been brought to Moscow once again to try to compel him to testify in the so-called "third criminal case against Khodorkovsky" regarding the murder of the mayor of Nefteyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov. Aleksei Pichugin has repeatedly declared his innocence, but the investigators tried to persuade him to give false testimony against the management of the oil company. Whenever he refused to do this, he referred to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which gives the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or one’s loved ones.

The second edition of the book Aleksei Pichugin - Roads and Crossroads. A biographical sketch can be purchased in Moscow at the library of The Sakharov Centre. In other cities in Russia it can be ordered with free mail delivery by the Russian Postal Service, by sending an application by e-mail to apichugin-book@list. ru.

Translated by Graham Jones