The oligarchs would stop at nothing to hide their illegal activities and prevent whistle blowers or others from revealing the truth. The Yukos ‘security services’ directed by none other than Leonid Nevzlin may sound like the characters from a far-fetched thriller novel, but their impact was deadly and very real. The Russian Federation’s defence submission submitted in The Hague on 29 July 2011 shows:

“In the aftermath of the Yukos acquisition, key Yukos and Group Menatep officials sought, through a ruthless campaign of intimidation and violence, to silence anybody who opposed their interests.

In 2005, former Yukos security chief Alexei Pichugin was convicted of organizing the double murder in November 2002 of Olga and Sergei Gorin. The couple was killed because Sergei Gorin had been threatening to disclose his involvement in Yukos’ criminal activities. Mr. Pichugin was found to be acting on the orders of Leonid Nevzlin, a major Group Menatep shareholder, senior Yukos executive, and head of Yukos’ security services. In August 2008, Mr. Nevzlin, who fled to Israel in 2003, was found guilty in absentia of several counts of conspiracy to murder individuals who had stood in Yukos’ way.  Mr. Nevzlin is also associated with Claimants, having submitted a witness statement on their behalf in these proceedings.

Mr. Pichugin was also convicted in 2005 of the attempted murder of Olga Kostina, a former adviser to Mr. Khodorkovsky and head of public relations at Moscow City Hall. On November 28, 1998, a bomb exploded in front of the apartment listed as Ms. Kostina’s place of residence in her Yukos personnel file. She did not actually live there, and thus escaped injury. Ms. Kostina testified at Mr. Pichugin’s trial that Mr. Nevzlin wished to punish her because he believed that she was acting against his and Yukos’ interests.  Mr. Nevzlin was also convicted of conspiracy to murder Ms. Kostina.

Mr. Pichugin was also later convicted, as was Mr. Nevzlin, for the attempted murder of Evgeny Rybin, head of the Austrian oil company East Petroleum Handelsges.  Mr. Rybin was twice the subject of assassination attempts: in November 1998, he escaped the assassin’s bullets, and in March 1999, he had a second narrow escape when his company car was blown up, killing his driver. By chance, Mr. Rybin was not in the car at the time. The motive behind the murder attempts was that East Petroleum had sued Yukos at The Hague for terminating a contract with Yukos subsidiary Tomskneft.  Mr. Rybin was shot at after leaving negotiations at the house of a Yukos manager, Leonid Filimonov, and Yukos security services had made attempts to trace Mr. Rybin via the government address information bureau around the time of that attempted assassination.”