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MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. Mikhail Khodorkovsky might have been the one who put a contract on the life of Nefteyugansk mayor Vladimir Petukhov, who was killed in 1998, the Investigative Committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin has told TASS.
"According to evidence at the disposal of the Investigative Committee, the man who ordered that murder and a number of other exceptionally grave crimes might have been YUKOS chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky," Markin said.
Vladimir Petukhov was shot dead in the morning of June 26, 1998 while walking to work. Shortly before that Petukhov had a conflict with the oil company YUKOS over tax evasion, which resulted in wage arrears and disruptions in the operation of utilities services.
In June 1998 Petukhov went on hunger strike in support of a demand for indicting the Yukos management on criminal charges. He agreed to terminate it after the governor of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous district, Alexander Filipenko, promised to look into the affair and take action. Several days later Petukhov was shot dead with a submachine-gun near the building of the city administration. The murder took place on the birthday of the then Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The former head of Yukos’s security department Alexey Pichugin was found guilty of the murder of Nefteyugansk’s first elected mayor.
Khodorkovsky’s defence dismisses Investigative Committee’s statement
Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyers have for the time being refrained from any comments regarding statements by Russia’s Investigative Committee about Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s suspected role in the 1998 murder of the mayor of Nefteyugansk.
"I never comment on speculations and fantasies, even those coming from the Investigative Committee," Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, Vadim Kluvgant, has told TASS. "Secondly, the law establishes the list of circumstances that are the reason for resuming the investigation. When the investigators take the trouble of saying what the new circumstances are, the defence will be able to comment."