New Charges Filed Against Khodorkovsky

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New charges have been cast by Russian prosecutors against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company, and once Russia’s richest man. The executive, who is already behind bars for tax-evasion and fraud, may now face an additional 22 years imprisonment.

Khodorkovsky and an associate, Platon Lebedev, were charged on June 30th with stealing some 350 million tons of oil and laundering $28 billion. According to the Kommersant newspaper, the new accusations differ little from earlier ones. The executive’s legal team said the move was a political one.

Reuters quotes Robert Amsterdam, one of Khodorkovsky’s international attorneys:
“The Russians have a problem, as the charges, as in earlier proceedings, are on the face of it absurd.”

“This buys them time and while we have not completed a review of the charges, they seem similar, if not identical,” he said. “This is an entirely political case and it can only be resolved at a political level.”

Throughout his whole trail, Khodorkovsky has maintained that he was the victim of a political attack. He maintains that his arrest in 2003, and the subsequent dismantling of Yukos were a retaliation for funding opposition political parties, and had more to do with the re-nationalization of Russian oil resources than with tax-evasion or fraud.

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