Russian tycoon sentencing sparks controversy

tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky had his jail term extended until 2017 after being
convicted of theft and money-laundering in a trial condemned in the West as
politically motivated.

judge Viktor Danilkin granted the prosecutors’ request and ordered Khodorkovsky
to serve 14 years in prison, including his current eight-year term and counting
from the day of his arrest at a Siberian airport in October 2003.

Khodorkovsky and co-defendant Platon Lebedev watching from a glass-walled
courtroom cage at the close of their trial, the judge said there was no way
they could be reformed without “isolation from society.”

once Russia’s richest man and head of the now defunct Yukos oil company, is in the
final year of an eight-year sentence imposed after a politically charged fraud
and tax evasion trial that shaped Vladimir Putin’s 2000-2008 presidency.

Russia said the trial was a matter for its courts
and rejected as “groundless” U.S. suggestions that the verdict
resulted from selective justice. The U.S. State Department sharply criticised
the sentencing.

remain concerned by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what
appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends …,”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

impression remains that political motivations played a role in this
trial,” German Chacellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin. “This
contradicts Russia’s frequently repeated intention to pursue full adoption of
the rule of law.”

of the young tycoons who built fortunes after the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse,
Khodorkovsky fell out with Putin’s Kremlin after airing corruption allegations,
challenging state control over oil exports and funding opposition parties.

in black, Khodorkovsky, whose previous sentence was due to end next October,
stood stunned as Danilkin announced the sentence, which his lawyers said was
made under pressure from Prime Minister Putin.


Jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky (R) stands in the defendants’ cage during a court session in Moscow Thursday.

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