[QODLink]
Europe
Russia to review Khodorkovsky case
President orders examination of charges against jailed ex-oil tycoon, believed by many to be politically motivated.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2012 16:55
Khodorkovsky, who onced the Yukos oil company, is set to stay in prison until 2016 [Igor Kharitonov/EPA]

Russian outgoing president, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered the prosecutor general to examine the legality of 32 criminal cases, including the jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon.

Khodorkovsky, who once owned the Yukos oil company, was arrested in 2003 and jailed on tax evasion and fraud charges.

His detention came soon after he showed political ambitions to take on Vladimir Putin, who won Russia's presidential election on Sunday.

Khodorkovsky received a new sentence in 2010, and is set to stay in prison until 2016 in a case that opponents of Putin say is politically motivated.

Medevedev remains president until May, when Putin will be inaugurated. He has ordered the prosecutor to report back by April 1.

Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, told the Reuters news agency the true significance of Medvedev's initiative could be judged only when the outcome of the investigation was known.

"There's been so many ... orders that you run out of words to comment," he said by telephone.

"But if ... the prosecutor and the president start to conform with the law, we will know it from the result. The lawlessness of this sentence is so glaring that there's nothing to study there."

Khodorkovsky's former business partner, Platon Lebedev, was also on the list of cases Medvedev ordered the prosecutor general to study and report back.

List of political prisoners

The order followed a meeting last month at which opposition leaders handed Medvedev a list of people they regard as political prisoners and want released from prison.

Putin has called Khodorkovsky a "thief" who should sit in jail. Medvedev said last year he saw no threat if Khodorkovsky were freed.

Last year Medvedev asked legal experts to look into Khodorkovsky's case along with other prominent cases, but the initiative resulted in no review of the court decision.

Prosecutors have said Khodorkovsky stole $27bn in oil from subsidiaries of Yukos through pricing schemes and laundered some of the money, charges his lawyers dismissed as an absurd, politically motivated pretext to keep him behind bars.

Khodorkovsky, one of the tycoons who made fortunes in the chaos following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, denies any wrongdoing.

He says he has been prosecuted over business practises that were both legal and widely used.

Source:
Agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
join our mailing list