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28 Mar, 2008 13:54

Ex-Yukos boss faces murder charges

The co-owner of Russian oil company Yukos is being tried in absentia in a Moscow court. Among the charges Leonid Nevzlin faces is murder. One of the alleged victims was the mayor of the west Siberian city of Nefteyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov.

The mayor’s widow, Farida Islamova has called for an investigation into whether the other owner of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, played a role in her husband's murder.

According to her, the killing took place following a rift between Khodorkovsky and Petukhov.

The mayor was shot on June 26, 1998 – the birthday of Mikhail Khodorkovky

“From that day, the murder investigation has been put on hold until 2003, with the main murder site being controlled by Yukos, while the facts of the murder laid there on the surface,” Islamova said.

“The company has evaded local tax payments and hid its earnings from the public. Khodorkovky managed to solve the problems through bribery of important officials. The local budget and survival of the town completely depended on the tax revenues from Yukos. The town was left with no revenues and no means to survive,” she went on.

“I have been shown the court’s evidence. Pichugin and Nevzlin were always mentioned in the same breath, but no mention of the second person who ordered the killing,” she said.

Islamova said she hopes the government will continue into this matter.

“Nevlzin and Khodorkovsky should realize what they have done while they are alive and have a choice. They never left this choice to my husband,” she added.

Nevzlin fled Russia for Israel in 2003, where he remains in self-exile. He was put on the international wanted list in July 2004. Israel has refused to extradite him to Russia, saying more evidence was required.