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Kremlin says Putin has nothing to do with new charges against Khodorkovsky

December 23, 2015, 13:03 UTC+3
According to the presiddent's press secretary, the decision to launch an investigation is made by an investigative authority
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© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has nothing to do with the new charges against former Yukos oil company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and this does not contradict the president’s decision to pardon the businessman, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"The decision to pardon someone on the basis of a convict’s address is made by the head of state, while the decision on launching investigation or putting someone on international or some other wanted list is not made by the head of state," Peskov told journalists. "This decision is made by an investigative authority," he added.

Answering a question on whether there is contradiction between the decision to pardon Khodorkovsky and the new charges against the businessman, as well as putting him on an international wanted list, Peskov said: "No, there is no [contradiction between these decisions]."

Russian Investigative Committee (IC) spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier on Wednesday that former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been arrested in absentia on charges of organizing murders and put on an international wanted list.

"After considering the petition of the Russian Investigative Committee’s department on investigating particularly important cases, the court has chosen detention as the measure of restraint against Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been put on an international wanted list," Markin said.

He reminded that Khodorkovsky was earlier called for questioning as a suspect in organizing murder and attempting to murder two or more people.

Moscow’s Basmanny court confirmed the arrest in absentia of Khodrkovsky, the court’s press secretary Yunona Tsareva told TASS. The term of arrest - two months - will be counted from the moment of detaining Khodorkovsky.

According to IC, "Khodorkovsky, as a shareholder and board chairman at Yukos oil company, ordered in 1998-1999 the company’s employees Leonid Nevzlin and Alexey Pichugin, as well as other persons, to kill Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov and entrepreneur Yevgeny Rybkin whose activities ran counter to Yukos’ interests."

Leonid Nevzlin, Alexey Pichugin, Gennady Tsigelnik, Yevgeny Reshetnikov and Vladimir Shapiro were earlier convicted for these crimes.

Khodorkovsky, who currently resides in Switzerland, has denied involvement in the murder of Vladimir Petukhov. He noted that he was ready to answer any questions over this criminal case only to the Swiss authorities. "If the country where I live now finds it necessary for me to answer these questions, I will do that."

Khodorkovskyalso said he didn't intend to go to Russia to be questioned over the case of the Siberian mayor’s murder. "I can say one thing: I won’t take part in this show," the ex-Yukos chief said.

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.

Russian investigators voice concerns over Khodorkovsky’s refusal to change lifestyle

Russia’s Investigative Committee official spokesman said on Wednesday that Switzerland’s mayors should be concerned as Mikhail Khodorkovsky is not planning to change his lifestyle.

"I would be concerned over Khodorkovsky’s statement on the refusal to change lifestyle if I were a Swiss mayor or entrepreneur," Vladimir Markin wrote in his Twitter microblog in comment to the former tycoon’s words quoted by media reports.

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