Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of the city of Nefteyugansk, was killed ten years ago on Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s birthday. The investigation of the case continued for seven years in spite of the fact that local citizens immediately named the malefactors.
In May 1998 Petukhov accused Yukos (Russia’s oil giant chaired by now-jailed Mikhail Khodorkovsky) of tax evasion, which resulted in the shortage of funds in the local budget to pay wages to employees of state-run enterprises. The mayor went on a hunger strike demanding chairmen of municipal and district tax offices be dismissed from their positions and a criminal case against Yukos be filed on counts of tax evasion.
Vladimir Petukhov was shot dead on June 26 on his way to work.
Local residents took to the streets soon after the assassination of their mayor. Many attempted to seize the local office of Yukos. The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation brought assassination charges against an employee of Yukos’s security service, Aleksei Pichugn, only in 2005.
Petukhov’s Social Movement of Nefteyugansk planned to erect a monument to the deceased mayor. However, Vladimir Petukhov’s widow, Farida Islamova, told Pravda.ru that even the memorial headstone that had been placed on the site of her husband’s death would be removed.
“There was a wish to put up the monument, but nobody is going to open it. It has been ten years already since the tragic event. Ten years ago Nefteyugansk residents set out a wish to put up the bust of Vladimir Petukhov in front of the city administration building. However, the city administration does not deal with the question and puts a blind eye on those events,” Farida Islamova said.
The memorial headstone was placed on the site of Vladimir Petukhov’s death in 2000, on the insistence of his Social Movement. The mayor’s widow says that the stone might be removed soon. “They are building a sports complex on that place. They are trying to sweep it all under the carpet and to remove the headstone. They also promise to put it back when the construction ends. When will it end, though ? In five or six years, maybe,” the woman said.
“Petukhov’s Social Movement annually holds meetings in memory of the killed mayor with floral tributse and publications in newspapers on June 26. It is only the Social Movement that has been doing all those things for ten years. This is all so very painful,” the widow said.
“Nothing comes out properly, although the city administration is perfectly aware of how the crime was committed and who was behind it. Vladimir Petukhov tried to address everyone : “ Help ! What is Mr. Khodorkovsky doing, what is he doing?” he once said. Khodorkovsky was practicing lawlessness here, he was not paying taxes demonstratively! No one has been called into account for that. Everyone just hid their heads in the sand like ostriches and did not hear anything. That is why such an assassination became possible,” Farida Islamova said.
“Our side can not do anything really to reach out major mass media outlets. You have to pay for everything everywhere, but it its Yukos, Khodorkovsky and Nevzlin who have money to print lies all over the world. Those people whom Khodorkovsky baited currently take efforts aimed at his release. It hurts to hear that . Will the pardon committee recall the victims? How many people did they murder , how many people did they bury ? And I am wondering – for what? The legal process has been going no for ten years. Maybe it will last for ten more years. However, it is still unclear whether the key assassin is going to be punished,” the woman said.
Farida Islamova was interviewed by Yaroslava Krestovskaya
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov