Alexey Vladimirovich Pichugin (Russian: Алексе́й Влади́мирович Пичу́гин; born July 25, 1962, Orekhovo-Zuevo, Moscow Oblast, USSR) is a former chief security official at the Russian oil company Yukos. In August 2006, Pichugin was sentenced, by a Moscow court, to serve 24 years imprisonment for conspiracy in several murders. Following an appeal by Russian prosecutors and then retrial, the sentence was raised to a life term, in August 2007.
From his childhood Alexey Pichugin looked forward to a military career, so after leaving school in 1979 he entered the Interior Ministry’s Higher Command School in Novosibirsk. Pichugin graduated in 1983 and was sent to the Interior Ministry’s unit for the Tula region.
In 1986 Pichugin entered the KGB’s school in Novosibirsk. On graduating, he started his work for the Committee for State Security. From 1987 to 1994 Pichugin worked in the administration of the KGB’s military secret service.
Pichugin left the FSB with the rank of major, in 1994, after the restructuring of state security services. In total, he had spent 15 years protecting Soviet and Russian state interests through his membership of the military and the secret services.
On leaving the FSB, Aleksey Pichugin joined the security service of Bank Menatep. In 1998, when Bank Menatep became the holding company for Yukos oil, Pichugin was appointed as head of a section within Yukos's security department.
As head of Yukos’s internal economic security department, Pichugin's responsibilities were safeguarding the company’s properties and prevention of theft from its enterprises.
Arrest and convictions in Russia
Pichugin was arrested in April 2003, for the alleged murder of Sergei and Olga Gorin in 2002. Sergei Gorin was a senior manager at Bank Menatep.
Pichugin was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years, on 30 March 2005, for the murder of the Gorins plus the attempted murder of Olga Kostina. Kostina was a one-time adviser to Mikhail Khodorkovsky (founder of Bank Menatep and the major Yukos stakeholder) who had since become head of the Moscow mayor’s office's public relations department. The verdict followed a closed-door trial in which the original jury was replaced and the star prosecution witness was a multiple murderer serving a life sentence - a fact the jury was not allowed to know. The fact that the murder victims had no other known enemies other than Yukos, and they were all persons posing a serious threat to the organization, weighted heavily in the deliberations.
In August 2007 Pichugin was again found guilty, in a retrial at the Moscow City Court, of the murder of three people and of assaulting four more. He received a life sentence for organising the murders of:
- Valentina Korneyeva (a Moscow business owner who had refused to sell her property to Bank Menatep)
- Vladimir Petukhov, mayor of Nefteyugansk (who had insisted that Yukos pay local taxes in full) and
- Nikolai Fedotov, a chauffeur (killed during an assassination attempt on Evgeny Rybin). A previous attempt had been made upon Mr. Rybin's life as he left a birthday party for a Menatep top manager while he was suing the company in Stockholm Arbitration court.
Rybin, a manager at East Petroleum Handels GmbH. (based in Vienna), had filed a number of lawsuits against Yukos, claiming that they return US$100 million that his company had invested for the development of the Zapodno-Poludennoye and Krapivinskoye oil fields. Rybin's car was rigged with a bomb. He had stepped out to deliver flowers to his sister when the bomb went off..
European Court proceedings
In 2012 the Court found violations of the article 5 paragraph 1 of European Convention on Human Rights on reasonable suspicion at the time of the arrest, article 5 paragraph 3 on the entitlement to a prompt trial, article 5 paragraph 4 on the right to a decision about the lawfulness of the detention, article 6 paragraphs 1 and 3(d) on fair trial and examining witnesses.
Married at the time of his arrest in 2003, Pichugin has three sons. The youngest, Sergey, was born in 1998. His wife spent several years publicly defending her husband's innocence. They are now separated.
- "Yukos Employee Gets 24 Years in Murders", Kommersant - Russia's daily online. 18 August 2006.
- "Russian court sentences former Yukos security officer to life in prison for murders", International Herald Tribune. 6 August 2007.
- ECtHR 23 October 2012 no. 38623/03