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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Khodorkovsky Strikes Back!

Business Week reports:

Lawyers for jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky filed a lawsuit Monday against two state prosecutors, accusing them of ignoring a court decision to transfer him from a Siberian prison camp to Moscow amid a new money-laundering investigation. Lawyer Yuri Shmidt said deputy chief prosecutor Viktor Grin and prosecutor Salavat Karimov had failed to comply with a Moscow court ruling to transfer Khodorkovsky to the capital amid a new investigation into theft and money laundering charges against him. "The prosecutors' insolence has gone beyond all limits," Shmidt told journalists Monday. The Prosecutor General's Office, where the suit was lodged, declined immediate comment. Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was arrested in 2003 in a tax inquiry that eventually put the oil company he founded, OAO Yukos, into state hands. He was convicted of fraud and tax evasion, and has been serving an eight-year sentence in the Siberian city of Chita, about 3,000 miles east of Moscow. In February, prosecutors filed new charges, accusing Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev of stealing property worth $34.3 billion from Yukos subsidiaries. In March, Moscow's Basmanny District Court overturned a prosecutors' decision to base the new investigation in Chita, and ordered the transfer to Moscow of Khodorkovsky and his business partner Lebedev, who faces similar charges. That decision was upheld in April, but Khodorkovsky was never transferred. Khodorkovsky has denied the new charges against him, calling the case a "shameful farce." His legal team has long insisted the company's business structure was legal and meticulously audited by foreign consultants to meet international standards. The trial of Khodorkovsky was widely seen as Kremlin-driven punishment for his challenging President Vladimir Putin.

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