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MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. When Russian President Vladimir Putin amnestied former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky two years ago, he did not have any information that Khodorkovsky was under suspicion of involvement in the 1998 murder of Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
"Of course, there was no (information), and there could not have been any," Peskov told journalists adding that he means information that has been recently obtained by Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC).
"The information that has emerged now was not available then, and it became the reason for investigators to take certain action," the Kremlin spokesman said. "But the investigative authorities have not stopped their work, and some new information has emerged," Peskov added.
The former head of oil giant Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and tax evasion in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison.
While serving their prison term, both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in a second criminal case in December 2010 and sentenced to 14 years in prison, with account taken of the jail term they had served.
Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and left prison in December 2013. Lebedev was released in early 2014.Media reports said the ex-Yukos head wrote in his pardon request that he pledged not to go into politics.
Vladimir Putin in late December 2014 also noted that Khodorkovsky asked to pardon him, at least he sent a corresponding paper, and "it seemed that he did not intend to engage in politics.”
The president later said Khodorkovsky still had the right to be engaged in politics.
On June 30, Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC) spokesman Vladimir Markin said IC has resumed criminal investigation into the 1998 murder of the mayor of Neftyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov, following newly-discovered evidence the former head of the oil major Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky might have been the one who put a contact on the mayor’s life.
"In view of the newly-discovered evidence a decision has been made to resume the criminal investigation of the 1998 murder of the mayor of Nefteyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov," Markin said. "The Investigative Committee has evidence the man who requested that murder and a number of other exceptionally grave crimes might have been Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky."
Khodorkovsky said earlier that he was summoned for questioning to IC as a defendant in a criminal case. An informed source told TASS Khodorkovsky was charged in absentia with involvement in the 1998 murder of Nefteyugansk Mayor Petukhov.