Alexei Vladimirovich Pichugin was born in the town of Orekhovo-Zuevo, Moscow Region, in 1962. He is a former high ranking security official at the erstwhile Russian oil giant Yukos.
From his childhood Aleksey looked forward to a military career, so after leaving school in 1979 he entered Interior Ministry’s Higher Command School in Novosibirsk. Aleksey Pichugin graduated in 1983 and was sent to the Interior Ministry’s unit in the Tula region.
In 1986 Aleksey Pichugin entered the KGB’s School in Novosibirsk. He graduated from it successfully and started his work for the Committee for State Security. From 1987 to 1994 Aleksey Pichugin worked in the Administration of the KGB’s Military Secret Service.
On the whole Aleksey Pichugin had given 15 years of his life to the protection of Soviet and Russian state interests in the military and the secret services. In 1994 after some restructuring exercises in state security, Aleksey left the FSB with the rank of Major.
On leaving the FSB Aleksey Pichugin joined the security service of “Menatep Bank“. In 1998 “Menatep Bank“ acquired YUKOS Oil Company, and Aleksey Pichugin started to work for YUKOS. He was appointed as head of a section within the security department.
As head of YUKOS’s Internal Economic Security Department, Aleksey's main responsibilities were safeguarding the company’s properties and prevention of theft and plunder in its enterprises. Aleksey's former colleagues described him as a true professional and a stern but just superior. Aleksey Pichugin had more than once been rewarded for irreproachable service in the units of the Interior Ministry and the FSB of Russia.
Arrest, Torture, and Convictions in Russia
Pichugin was arrested in April 2003, allegedly for the murder of his good friends Sergei and Olga Gorin in 2002. During interrogation at the FSB's Lefortovo prison, he was given drugged coffee and subsequently injected with an unknown substance, after which he could not remember anything. In the following weeks, he mysteriously began to lose weight precipitously.
On March 30, 2005, after a closed-door trial in which the original jury had been replaced by the state and the star witness against him was a multiple-murderer serving a life sentence - a fact the jury was not allowed to know - Aleksey was found guilty of the murder the Gorins and the attempted murder of Olga Kostina. He received a sentence of 20 years in prison.
In August 2007 he was additionally found guilty by the Moscow City Court of murder of three people and assaults on four. Pichugin received a life sentence for organizing the murders of Moscow businessman Valentina Korneyeva, Nefteyugansk mayor Vladimir Petukhov and a person by the last name of Fedotov.
European Court proceedings
In September 2007 Aleksey Pichugin's lawyers placed questions by the European Court for Human Rights to the government of the Russian Federation at the disposal of journalists. These deal with Aleksey Pichugin's first criminal case concerning the disappearance of Tambov businesspersons, Sergey and Olga Gorina. These questions were drafted on June 5, 2007, based on complaints from Pichugin and his lawyers filed in Strasbourg.
As was reported earlier by lawyer Kseniya Kostromoina, the defence had called to the attention of the Strasbourg court the violations of Articles 3 (Prohibition of torture), 5 (Right to life, liberty and security of person) and 6 (Right to fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Aleksey Pichugin was married at the time of his arrest in 2003, and has three sons, the youngest of whom, Sergey, was only 5 at the time. After several years of defending her husband's honor in public, his wife has now left him.
YUKOS Employee Gets 24 Years in Murders
By Vladislav Trifonov - Kommersant.com
August 18, 2006
The Moscow City Court has sentenced yesterday YUKOS’s former security chief to 24 years in prison for organizing a series of murders and two attempted murders. Prosecutors initially asked for life sentence for Alexey Pichugin. The verdict mentions that Pichugin carried out orders of YUKOS’s major shareholder, Leonid Nevzlin. Nevzlin’s lawyer believes that the Pichugin trial was organized to have his client extradited.
The court room where the trial had been going for the last four month was overcrowded. Three dozens of relatives of the accused, journalists and the victim, businessman Evgeny Rybin had to stand in sweltering heat for six hours while Judge Vladimir Usov was monotonously reading out the verdict. The air conditioner in the room did not work, and windows were close as a security measure.
First, the judge reminded the essence of the case and gave a short summary of the indictment. According to investigators, Alexey Pichugin organized all the crimes imputed to him, following orders of YUKOS’s major shareholder, Leonid Nevzlin who oversaw the security department where Pichugin worked.
The first murder was committed on January 21, 1998. Shortly before it, Nevzlin requested Alexey Pichugin to settle a dispute with Valentina Korneeva, owner of the Tea shop, who declined to sell the office that YUKOS wanted to occupy. Alexey Pichugin went to his friend Sergey Gorin (Pichugin was convicted of his murder last year). The man received $5,000 and a Huydai Galloper jeep to find killers-for-hire, unemployed Mikhail Ovsyannikov and former police officer Vladimir Shapiro. Shapiro and Gorin drank a bottle of vodka and shot the shop owner, according to investigators.
In summer 1998, Alexey Pichugin carried out Leonid Nevzlin’s order and found men through Gorin, Shapiro and Volgograd’s gangster Arkady Goritovsky (killed in 2002) to murder Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov. The mayor demanded that YUKOS pay taxes to the local budget in full. Former paratrooper Evgeny Reshetnikov and convicted criminal Gennady Tsigelnik agreed to execute the order for $10,000.
On June 26, 1998, Reshetnikov shot the mayor dead with a machine gun, wounding his security man. Some time later, Tsigelnik and Reshetnikov were hired to assault Vladimir Kolesov, a business manager of Rosprom, investigators say. The manager was severely beaten up as “his career achievements ran against Nevzlin’s interests”.
In fall 1998 and spring 1999, Reshetnikov and Tsigelnik made two murder attempts on Evgeny Rybin, executive at East petroleum handelgas GmbH. The businessman wanted YUKOS to return $100 million that his company had invested in the development of the Zapodno-Poludennoye and Krapivinskoye oil fields. In the first attempt, the killer missed. Later, the killers threw a bomb and fired on the car where only Rybin’s bodyguards were riding in. The driver died and two security men were injured.
After the judge finished describing the crimes imputed to the defendants, he looked into each episode, evaluated evidence and objections of the defense and pronounced the verdict.
The accused were ruled guilty and sentenced to terms in prison camps. Vladimir Shapiro got 19 years. Tsegelnik and Reshetnikov will have to serve 18 and 17 years, respectively. Mikhail Ovsyannikov was sentenced to 10 years. Vladislav Levin who took no part in YUKOS’s business but committed a robbery with Tsigelnik is to spend 7 years and a half behind bars. Alexey Pichugin got the most unexpected conviction as the state prosecutor had asked for life sentence for the key accused. The judge sentenced the former KGB major to 21 years in prison. However, considering the former YUKOS employee got a 20-year term for organizing other murders, the court decided, “by means of partial addition”, that Pichugin must spend the total of 24 years behind bars. It means that the new verdict carried only 4 years.
Pichugin’s lawyer, Georgy Kaganer told Kommersant that this fact proves the innocence of his client. “Investigators did not mention a single solid argument that could prove that Alexey Pichugin has any connection to the crimes,” the lawyer said. “The whole prosecution was based on testimonies of murderers and rapists from gangs of Korovnikov, Reshetnikov and Tsigenlnik, who had been sentenced to long prison terms,” Kaganer explained. “All of them allegedly learnt the names of the people who allegedly contracted them for murders not directly, but from Gorin who went missing and Goritvosky who was killed.”
Lawyer Kaganer pointed out to the fact that witnesses of the prosecution changed their testimonies for several times. “It is already impossible to understand what they told was truth.” The lawyer noted that the only “guilt” of Pichugin is that he worked for YUKOS. The defense is set to appeal the verdict. Should the Supreme Court uphold the conviction, Alexey Pichugin will be at large only in 2026 when he is 64. Furthermore, Pichugin is suspected of organizing one more murder. This instance is to be considered as a separate case. “I anticipated a bigger term for Pichugin,” the victim Rybin said. “But it is not the last trial. He will get his life sentence after all.”
“Pichugin has become a victim again,” Dmitry Kharitonov, lawyer of Leonid Nevzlin, told Kommersant. “It is clear that his case is just an effort to have Nevzlin [who lives in Israel] extradited. But it’s not the kind of methods of making business that people abroad would be sympathetic with. This verdict will have no effect on the life of my client.”
Jail term for Yukos security boss
Wednesday, 30 March 2005
The former security chief of Russian oil giant Yukos, Alexei Pichugin, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for murder and attempted murder.
Mr Pichugin was convicted last week of carrying out two murders in 2002, as well as an attack on the head of the Moscow mayor's communication service.
He was found guilty of organising the murder of Sergei and Olga Gorin and the attempted murder of Olga Kostina.
Mr Pichugin's lawyers are appealing against his conviction.
Prosecutors had originally asked for a life sentence for Mr Pichugin - who denied all the charges - but reduced this to 20 years after he cooperated with them.
The guilty verdict was the first against a former Yukos official, a number of whom are currently on trial in Russia.
Prosecutors in the trial of former Yukos chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky called on Tuesday for the tycoon to be sentenced to 10 years for fraud and tax evasion.
Mr Khodorkovsky and his former colleague Platon Lebedev are standing trial on multiple charges relating to the privatisation of a fertiliser firm in the 1990s.
The pair deny the charges against them. A verdict in the case is expected in May.
Mr Pichugin headed Yukos' security department until his arrest in 2003.
He was accused of organising the murder of the Gorins in 2002 on the orders of Leonid Nevzlin, a shareholder in Yukos and friend of Mr Khodorkovsky.
Mr Nevzlin, who denies any wrongdoing, is wanted by the Russian authorities in connection with the case. He is currently in exile in Israel.
Mr Pichugin was also accused of the attempted murder of Olga Kostina, a one-time adviser to Mr Khodorkovsky who went to work for Moscow's city government.
Lawyers for Mr Pichugin claim there is no proof of the murders since the bodies of the married couple have never been found.
"Since there were criminal procedural violations in the trial we consider that it was impossible to make such a verdict on Pichugin's guilt," Mikhail Zhidkov, a member of his defence team, said.
They will launch an appeal to the Russian Supreme Court and, if that fails, will consider taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Yukos has been under remorseless pressure from the Russian authorities since Mr Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, a campaign which many believe is politically motivated.
It was forced to sell its main Yugansk production unit after being served with a multimillion dollar tax bill and is being sued by state oil firm Rosneft, which ended up owning the business.
Yukos has pledged to fight to recover its lost assets, which it claims have been illegally expropriated, by taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights.
One Russia-based analyst said Yukos was in a "downward spiral" which was likely to result in the eventual sale of its remaining assets.
"To all intents and purposes the Yukos story is over," he told the BBC.
"When the elephant is fallen and there are people sniffing around its carcass, it does not really matter whether there is any meat left or who is going to get this or that part of the body."