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Tags: russia yukos trial

Khodorkovsky Guilty, Faces Six More Years in Jail

Monday, 27 December 2010 08:04 AM EST

A Moscow judge found Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of Yukos Oil Co., guilty of stealing crude from the company during a six-year period, his lawyers said.

“The trial was a charade of justice, the charges were absolutely false, but I fear the sentencing will be very real,” Vadim Klyuvgant, the lead defense lawyer, said today in an e- mailed statement. The sentence will be given this week or after Jan. 10 when Russia’s New Year holidays end, the lawyers said.

The defense team plans to appeal the decision against Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev, Klyuvgant told reporters outside the courtroom. “There isn’t the slightest doubt that there was pressure on the court.”

Khodorkovsky’s parents sat in the front row, listening to the reading. Supporters gathered in the street chanting “Freedom,” which could be heard inside the court. The police detained as many as 11 activists, Interfax reported.

Khodorkovsky, 47, faces six more years in prison on oil theft charges, according to the lawyers. Once Russia’s richest man, he was due for release in October next year after serving an eight-year term on charges of tax evasion. Khodorkovsky has called the charges retribution for political opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was president at the time of his 2003 arrest. Putin has denied any involvement.

Kremlin Elections

Speaking in an annual call-in show with the nation on Dec. 16, Putin said that “a thief should sit in jail,” referring to Khodorkovsky’s 2005 conviction. During Putin’s presidency, Yukos, once Russia’s largest oil exporter, was bankrupted amidst about $30 billion of tax claims and sold off in pieces.

Khodorkovsky’s wife, Inna, said she expected her husband to remain in jail until 2012, when presidential elections will be held that could return Putin to the Kremlin for 12 years.

“My husband will stay in prison until at least 2012, and after that who knows what will happen? No one does,” she said in an interview with Snob magazine published Dec. 25. “No, I don’t believe in that,” she said when asked if Judge Viktor Danilkin, presiding over the trial at Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court, might acquit Khodorkovsky.

‘Irritants’ to Investors

Prosecutors have been seeking a 14-year sentence for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev on charges of stealing about 219 million tons (1.6 billion barrels) of oil from Yukos. Khodorkovsky’s lawyers say time already served on their eight- year prison terms will be deducted if he’s convicted in the current trial.

Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment is “one of the irritants that investors traditionally react to,” German Gref, chief executive officer of OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, said in an interview earlier this month.

“We have our work cut out for us to improve the investment climate,” said Gref, who was economy minister when Khodorkovsky was arrested. The case is “one episode, but we have systemic issues that aren’t resolved,” such as property rights, the judiciary and law enforcement, he said.

Russia is the world’s most corrupt major economy, according to Berlin-based Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index released on Oct. 26, sliding to 154th among 178 countries and placing it alongside Tajikistan and Kenya.

“By all accounts the rule of law in the conduct of this trial has been abandoned,” Richard Ottaway, chairman of the U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said in an e-mailed statement. “This has serious implications for the confidence of overseas investors and on British investment in Russia.”

For the German government, “adherence to the rule of law” in Russia is at stake in the Khodorkovsky trial, spokesman Christoph Steegmans said at a regular press conference in Berlin.

Khodorkovsky has ruled out the possibility of an acquittal and said he’s prepared to die in jail. The verdict will be “predictable,” he said in his closing statement at the trial on Nov. 2. “No one believes that you can get an acquittal in the Yukos affair in a Moscow court.”

© Copyright 2010 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A Moscow judge found Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of Yukos Oil Co., guilty of stealing crude from the company during a six-year period, his lawyers said.
russia yukos trial
Monday, 27 December 2010 08:04 AM
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