Person of the Week: Aleksei Pichugin

posted 11 Jul 2016, 04:47 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jul 2016, 04:50 ]
On 4 July 2016, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of the Yukos oil company now living in exile in the UK, accused the FSB of blackmailing Aleksei Pichugin, the jailed former head of internal economic security at Yukos, to give testimony against him in a murder trial. As The Moscow Times reported, Khodorkovsky wrote on his Facebook page on 4 July that he had been contacted by the lawyers of Aleksei Pichugin: “Security Service officers visited him and threatened that if he doesn’t provide evidence for the case [against me] then they will arrest his brother. They have already called his brother in for questioning and searched his home. He has left Russia.” The Moscow Times notes that Khodorkovsky "has been charged with ordering Pichugin to kill the Mayor of Nefteyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov, in 1998. Pichugin has already been found guilty of the crime and sent to the notorious Black Dolphin penal colony in Russia’s Orenburg region." As The Moscow Times notes, "Many human rights groups believe the proceedings to be politically motivated." in 2012 the European Court of Human Rights found violations of Article 5 paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 [security and liberty of person]; and Article 6 paragraphs 1 and 3(d) [right to fair trial] of the European Convention on Human Rights in the investigation and trial of Aleksei Pichugin. However, there has been no reconsideration of his case and he remains in prison. 

A statement by Mikhail Khodorkovsky on his website reads: "According to Alexey Pichugin’s lawyers, he was visited by representatives of the security services and threatened that if he did not give evidence that would suit the people handling his case, his brother would be arrested. His brother has been interrogated and searched. Now he is no longer in Russia. Aleksei has been taken from the prison colony. The place of his current location is unknown. If someone learns something – please let us know. It is important for his safety. Bad things tend to happen during transfer."

On 8 July the Open Russia website reported that Pichugin had been moved from the 'Black Dolphin' prison colony on 2 July and that he was now at the FSB-controlled detention centre of Lefortovo in Moscow. On 8 July 2016, RAPSI reported that "FSB investigators will examine former Yukos security chief Aleksei Pichugin [...] on July 13." RAPSI notes that, "In December 2015, former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky was charged with organizing the murder of Petukhov. The Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Khodorkovsky and put him on the international wanted list."


'Khodorkovsky Claims Russian State Blackmail Threat,' The Moscow Times, 5 July 2016
'Yukos ex-security chief sentenced to life to be questioned by FSB,' RAPSI, 8 July 2016
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 'IMPORTANT. HELP IS NEEDED FOR ALEXEY PICHUGIN,' Khodorkovsky, 4 July 2016
'ФСБ вызвала Алексея Пичугина на допрос 13 июля,' Open Russia, 8 July 2016
'Pichugin v Russia,' European Court of Human Rights, 23 October 2016 [final: 18 March 2013]
'Alexey Pichugin,' Wikipedia