US comments on Yukos 'tactless'

Russia's fired a return salvo over US criticism of Moscow's handling of the Yukos affair.

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky faces fraud and tax evasion charges

    Russian foreign ministry spokesman, Alexander Yakovenko labelled the US comments "a continuation of a notorious policy of double standards". 

    He told First Channel television on Saturday: "It is, at the very least, tactless and disrespectful towards Russia.

    The United States had said Russia must allay widespread fears among investors and others that its prosecution of oil mogul Mikhail Khodorkovsky may be politically motivated.

    Khodorkovsky, who heads oil giant Yukos, has been arrested on fraud and tax evasion charges.

    In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said freezing Yukos assets belonging to Khodorkovsky and his allies "raised serious questions" about Russia's commitment to free markets and an independent judiciary.

    He said the action "has raised serious questions about the rule of law in Russia". 

    "We've noted that it sparked concerns among domestic and international investors about respect for ownership rights in Russia," he said, noting that the asset freeze had caused "gyrations" in Russian markets.



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