Russia summons Kremlin foe Khodorkovsky's father for questioning

Boris Khodorkovsky, father of former Russian oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, leaves after a press conference of his son on December 22, 2013 in Berlin (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Moscow (AFP) - Russian investigators have called in the elderly father of arch-Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky for questioning, the former oil tycoon's press service said Wednesday.

Boris Khodorkovsky, 82, received a summons Tuesday to appear before investigators on August 6 as a witness in an unspecified case, an online statement said.

Investigators announced in June that they were reviving a criminal probe into the 1998 murder of a Siberian mayor, saying that the younger Khodorkovsky might have ordered the killing.

They said they would look to question the former head of the Yukos oil firm, who is challenging President Vladimir Putin's grip on power from his self-imposed exile in Switzerland.

A lawyer for Khodorkovsky's father, Sergei Badamshin, said that it was "more than likely" that he was being questioned in relation to this case.

Boris Khodorkovsky plans to attend the questioning, he told AFP.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, has suggested that authorities were reviving the case to punish him for his criticism of the Kremlin.

"The only task that the Investigative Committee has set for itself is it put pressure on Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his family," the ex-oligarch's press service said Wednesday.

The former security chief of Yukos, Alexei Pichugin, has been sentenced to life in prison over the mayor's murder. Lawyers say the company's employees have fallen victim to political persecution.

Khodorkovsky, 52, was snatched off his corporate jet in 2003, convicted of fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement and spent a decade in jail, which his supporters said was punishment for daring to challenge the Kremlin strongman.

Putin stunned Russia in 2013 by suddenly pardoning the former tycoon, apparently drawing the curtain on the most notorious legal case in post-Soviet Russian history.

Upon his release from prison, the former businessman was flown to Germany and now lives in Switzerland with his family.

Initially he promised to steer clear of politics but then publicly voiced his readiness to take on the country's top job and lead Russia in times of crisis.

Last year Khodorkovsky launched a movement dubbed Open Russia to unite pro-European Russians, saying the time had come to think of the country's future after Putin.