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German leader denounces Khodorkovsky prison conditions

[JURIST] German Chancellor Angel Merkel [official website] called the conditions in the remote Siberia prison [JURIST report] holding former Yukos [corporate website] Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [MosNews profile; JURIST news archive] "unacceptable" in a letter published Thursday, and said that the German government had called on Russia to respect international rights standards. Merkel made the comments in response to a call by Germany's opposition Free Democrats [official website] for her to raise Khordorkovsky's imprisonment with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In June, prison authorities placed Khodorkovsky in solitary confinement for the third time [JURIST report] after violating a prison rule. Khodorkovsky was convicted in May 2005 of tax evasion [JURIST report], and the government effectively nationalized Yukos to pay off $33 billion in back taxes. The remaining Yukos assets will likely be sold this year. Bankruptcy proceedings [BBC report] began in late March for Yukos, while Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan was charged [JURIST report] with embezzlement and money laundering in early April. MosNews has more. Berliner-Zeitung has local coverage.

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