At five o’clock in the evening on 25 July 2012 next to the Pushkin statue on Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow a series of solo pickets will be held to mark Aleksei Pichugin’s 50th birthday.
In this way civil society activists want to express their support for the former Yukos employee and, in their own words, show that “on the other side of the fence people are aware of and remember the injustice that has been committed against him, that they have not become reconciled to it, that they empathise with those who have been falsely convicted and believe in their release.”
Previously an event had been organised on “Live Journal” on the Internet entitled: “Congratulate Aleksei Pichugin on his birthday”, which garnered over two hundred letters of congratulation in Russian and English and in prose and verse from Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, the USA, Australia and many other countries. These letters were sent to Federal State Colony IK-6 in the city of Sol-Iletsk in Orenburg region, more famously known as the “Black Dolphin”, where Aleksei Pichugin is serving life imprisonment.
Aleksei Pichugin was arrested on 19 June 2003.
As a result of the first case brought against him he was found guilty of organising the murders of Tambov entrepreneurs Sergei and Olga Gorin in 2002 (allegedly in the interests of Yukos). And also the attempted murder in 1998 of Olga Kostina, head of the Moscow City Hall’s Public Relations Directorate, and the assault, robbery and attempted murder of Viktor Kolesov the manager of a company called ROSPROM.
Neither of the bodies of the alleged victims, Mr and Mrs. Gorin, nor the perpetrators of the crime were found. During the investigation and in court, Viktor Kolesov repeatedly stated that he did not believe that he had been a victim of Aleksei Pichugin. And in general he doubted that anyone wanted to kill him. Likewise, the version that Yukos was responsible for an explosion in the stairwell at Olga Kostina’s parent’s home only emerged nearly five years after the event had taken place. Moreover, this version of events contradicted the factual circumstances of the case, and after this Olga Kostina’s career enjoyed a meteoric rise.
As a result of the second case brought against Aleksei Pichugin, he was found guilty of organising the murders in 1998 of Vladimir Petukhov the mayor of Nefteyugansk, and Valentina Korneeva the director of the Phoenix Moscow Trading Company, and likewise the organisation in 1998 and 1999 of attempts on the life of Yevgeny Rybin, the manager of the Austrian company East Petroleum Handels. According to the state prosecution’s version of events, which was supported by the court, Aleksei Pichugin was acting on the orders of Yukos deputy president Leonid Nevzlin.
All of the evidence provided by the prosecution witnesses in this case was indirect hearsay testimony. Subsequently, Gennady Tsigelnik one of the prosecution’s “trump” witnesses disavowed his own evidence against Yukos personnel, declaring that he had framed Pichugin and Nevzlin at the request of investigators from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in exchange for a reduction in the length of his sentence, but that they had tricked him.
Aleksei Pichugin has not admitted his guilt to a single one of the charges brought against him.