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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Update: August 5, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Father of Mikhail Khodorkovsky Summoned for Interrogation in Re-Opened Case of Mayor's Murder
Boris Khodorkovsky, the father of businessman and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been summoned for questioning, the Institute for Modern Russia reported.

Yesterday, August 4, investigators from Russia's Investigative Committee came to the Podmoskovny School for orphans and underprivileged children in Korollovo, founded by the parents of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. They had a summons for his father, Boris Moiseyevich, dated August 6 at 10:00 am, tomorrow.

The investigators came a day after the first anniversary of the death of Marina Filippovna Khodorkovskaya, and the birthday of Boris, who turned 82 years on August 3.

The summons says that Boris Khodorkovsky is called in for questioning by investigator Yury Burtov in connection with the case of Aleksei Puchugin.

As we reportedon Jun 30, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin announced that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and others would likely be called in for interrogation in connection with the murder of Vladimir Petukhov, mayor of Nefteyugansk.

Given the first witness called -- the elderly father of Khodorkovsky -- and the date of the summons, authorities appear to be reviving the case merely for the sake of harassment. Sergei Badamshin, Boris Khodorkovsky's lawyer commented (translation by The Interpreter):

"The Investigative Committee must create some sort of motion, and all the motions that are happening now are pressure on the family and people most close to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It is clear, since the elderly man is being summoned for interrogation the day after the year anniversary of the death of his spouse."

Petukhov, mayor of the oil-rich Siberian town of Nefteyugansk, was shot dead in 1998 as he was walking to work. At the time, Russian media said the audit chamber was investigating misappropriation of budget funds in his administration, Moscow Times reported. After he was elected mayor, his wife had taken over his businesses.

Petukhov was involved in a public dispute  over wage arrears with municipal workers with Yukos, at that time owned by Khodorkovsky, which controlled the oil wells in the area and provided most of the taxes for the budget.

An employee of Yukos security at the time, Aleksei Puchugin, was arrested and convicted of the murder in 2005, although Khodorkovsky's lawyers maintained his innocence. Another hypothesis for the murder was that gangsters who controlled a local city market shut down by Petukhov were the culprits.

While Russian state propagandists have continually insinuated a connection between Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the murder of Petukhov, prosecutors never charged him, despite two court cases widely seen as politically motivated which ultimately led to him serving more than 12 years of prison. He was pardoned by Putin in 2013 near the end of his sentence in order to visit his gravely ill mother, who subsequently died.

Since that time, Khodorkovsky has continued his outspoken criticism of President Vladimir Putin and formed Open Russia, a movement for democratic change in his homeland.

On July 29, he gave an extensive interview to TV Rain where he said he was "80% sure" he knew the name of the killer of Boris Nemtsov which he did not divulge, but said it was someone within security forces who may have staged a provocation against Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Five Chechens have been arrested in the murder, one of whom served in the Chechen Interior Ministry troops controlled by Kadyrov and another, his commander, who is wanted by police and is believed to have fled Russia.

Khodorkovsky also said in this interview that there was "a 50% chance" that Putin would leave the scene within the next 10 years as the economy deteriorated with the fall of oil prices. But he also said he opposed sanctions on Russia.

UPDATE: The official website of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has published a full statement, in English, on the questioning of Boris Khodorkovsky.

(Note: The Interpreter is a project of the Institute for Modern Russia, funded by Pavel Khodorkovsky, son of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.)

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick