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Russian Supreme Court Upholds Sentence Of Former Yukos Security Chief

Aleksei Pichugin appears in a Moscow court in April 2008.
Aleksei Pichugin appears in a Moscow court in April 2008.

MOSCOW -- The Russian Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence handed down a decade ago to Aleksei Pichugin, a former security chief of the now-defunct oil company Yukos.

The Supreme Court reviewed Pichugin's case after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in June that Russian authorities violated his rights during the investigation and ignored the presumption of innocence, and ordered the government to pay 15,000 euros ($17,400).

Pichugin was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 after being convicted of organizing the murders of three people, including a city mayor who was pressuring Yukos to pay more taxes. He maintains his innocence.

Once Russia's largest company. Yukos was dismantled after the 2003 arrest of its CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was later convicted of financial crimes at two trials that he had supporters contend were engineered by the Kremlin to punish him for challenges to President Vladimir Putin and increase the Kremlin's control over oil export revenues.

The main production assets of Yukos were sold at auction and ended up in the hands of state oil company Rosneft.

Khodorkovsky spent 10 years in prison before he was released and left Russia after being pardoned by Putin in 2013.

Pichugin's petitions for clemency have been declined by Putin.

The Russian human rights group Memorial has recognized Pichugin as a prisoner of conscience.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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