MOSCOW, October 23 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a life sentence handed down to the defunct Yukos oil company’s former security head was lawful and refused to amend it in line with a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights.
Alexei Pichugin, who was convicted of masterminding several murders, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 after a Russian court convicted him of having planned the 1998 assassination of the mayor fo the city of Nefteyugansk Vladimir Petukhov, as well as 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 added to his 2005 sentence, though the latter sentence was not the subject of the present ECHR case.
Pichugin had appealed to the ECHR that his right to liberty and security had been violated, claiming he was arrested without reasonable suspicion, his detention was delayed unreasonably, and his appeals were not dealt with in a timely fashion.
He further claimed 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 national 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.
In 2003, the authorities arrested Yukos’ owners, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev, accusing them of economic crimes. The arrests and trials of a number of other company figures soon followed.
Yukos, then the country's largest company, was later declared bankrupt and its assets were taken over by state-owned Rosneft. Many in the West believe that the case was politically motivated by Khodorkovsky’s support of opposition politicians, although the Kremlin has always denied the affair was anything except a purely criminal matter.