[JURIST] A Moscow court on Thursday sentenced former Yukos [corporate website; JURIST news archive] security chief Alexei Pichugin [Wikipedia profile] to 24 years in prison for organizing a series of contract killings, including the 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk. Prosecutors filed the murder charges [JURIST report] against Pichugin and others in April 2005. Puchugin's defense team had argued that the charges were politically motivated and made in an effort to connect Leonid Nevzlin [Forbes profile], a former Yukos executive, to the deaths. Nevzlin lives in exile in Israel, and Russia requested his extradition last year.
Pichugin was also convicted of a double murder and two assassination attempts last year, receiving a 20 year jail sentence [JURIST report; BBC report]. MosNews has more. The Moscow Times has additional coverage.