Russia summons Khodorkovsky for questioning on murder charge
Russian investigators have summoned Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky for questioning saying he is charged over a 1998 murder, the website of the former head of Yukos oil company said Tuesday.
Investigators on Monday handed Khodorkovsky’s father a summons for his son to come in for questioning in Moscow this Friday, the Open Russia website said, publishing a scan of the document.
The statement by the powerful Investigative Committee says Khodorkovsky is “charged” over the murder of a Siberian mayor committed in 1998 for which his former security chief is serving life in jail.
Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia’s richest man, spent a decade in prison on charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement, which he blames on a political vendetta by President Vladimir Putin.
In late 2013 he was unexpectedly released and flown out of the country after a presidential pardon. He currently lives in London.
“It’s as if they don’t know my address,” Khodorkovsky tweeted, calling the summons “a sad attempt at changing the topic of debate” in Russia.
Investigators announced in June that they were reviving a criminal probe into the 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of oil-producing city Nefteyugansk, saying that Khodorkovsky may have ordered the killing.
Russian investigators in August called Khodorkovsky’s elderly father in for questioning as a witness over the case.
Khodorkovsky’s associate, Alexei Pichugin, the former security chief of Yukos, was convicted in 2007 and given a life sentence.
Khodorkovsky’s spokeswoman Kulle Pispanen said the new steps by investigators looked like an attempt at revenge.
“It looks like payback for publication of materials of the ‘Spanish case’ about mafia among Russian leadership,” she wrote Tuesday.
Open Russia this month published information on allegations by Spanish prosecutors of links between a Russian crime boss and several Putin allies, including the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin.
Putin has claimed that Khodorkovsky has “blood up to his elbows,” alluding to involvement in violent crime, but went on to issue him a pardon, seen by some as a publicity gesture ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014.
Asked on Tuesday why Putin pardoned the tycoon in 2013 despite allegations of involvement in the mayor’s murder, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that at the time there was “some information” but investigators now have a more complete case.
“We did not have some of the information that we have now, which led to the actions being taken by the investigators,” Peskov told journalists.