For the first time, a YUKOS co-owner was accused not of economic crime, but of involvement in murders.
On July 27 Basmanny District Court in Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Leonid Nevzlin on charges of murders. Meanwhile, the lawyers of Mr. Nevzlin consider these accusations as provocation “invented by the Office of Public Prosecutor to demonstrate the entire world that YUKOS was created by bandits and murderers”.
Russian Office of Public Prosecutor wrote on its website that Leonid nevzlin had been accused of organizing the murder of spouses Sergey and Olga Gorin in Tambov, and 3 assassination attempts – on Chief of Public Relations Administration of Moscow Government, former YUKOS spokesperson Olga Kostina, on the former Chief of Administrative Department of Rosprom Joint-Stock Company Sergey Kolesov, and on the executive director of East Petroleum Handelsgez MBH company Evgeny Rybin. According to the Office of Public Prosecutor, these were assassination attempts on the people posing danger for YUKOS’s or Mr. Nevzlin’s well-being. "In all the above cases, Mr. Nevzlin gave direct orders to Pichugin (YUKOS security service officer)”. The Office of Public Prosecutor claims to have gathered enough proof of Leonid Nevzlin’s criminal activity”.
The defendant’s lawyers deny the allegations. Attorney Henry Reznik says that “the accusations are a provocation to compromise the founders of YUKOS. The investigators need to demonstrate the world that YUKOS was founded by bandits and murderers”.
According to the Kommersant, prisoner Igor Korovnikov testified against Leonid Nevzlin, and this became the ground for the new charges. In 2000, resident of Tambov Igor Korovnikov was sentenced to life in prison for many rapes and robberies. During the police investigation, one of the members of Korovnikov’s gang admitted being involved in setting explosion near the apartment of Olga Kostina’s mother. Some businessman from Tambov “ordered” the explosion. When the investigation found out that Sergey Gorin could be this businessman, it was already impossible to interrogate him. The Gorins, both the husband and the wife, had been kidnapped. In 2003, after YUKOS’ executives started being prosecuted, the policemen searched the yard of the Gorins’ cottage again, and found a blood-stained cigar-butt and remains of brain tissue. The law-enforcers changed the investigation from kidnapping to murder, and YUKOS’ security service officer Aleksei Pichugin was accused of it. According to the investigation, Pichugin “ordered” Sergey Gorin to assassinate Olga kostina and Sergey Kolesov. Later Sergey Gorin started threatening that he would report this to the police, and was killed. Aleksei Pichugin was arrested.
Until recently, Pichugin was the only YUKOS man accused of murders. But then prisoner Igor Korovnikov testified from prison against former YUKOS executive Nevzlin.
On July 23, all the countries-Interpol members were notified that Leonid Nevzlin had been accused of murder. Nevzlin is residing in Israel, and his lawyer Henry Reznik says Israel will never hand him to Russian authorities. Israel never extradites its citizens, and Leonid Nevzlin has double Russian-Israeli citizenship.
Kommersant was unable to reach Leonid Nevzlin for comments. Former YUKOS President Mikhail Khodorkovsky said, "Leonid Nevzlin is my friend, and he is still my friend despite his changing citizenship and leaving Russia. I am very sorry that some people are using such terrible methods and accusations in pursuits of their purposes”.