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Khodorkovsky lambastes latest 'absurd' indictment

[JURIST] Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday condemned new charges [MBK statement; JURIST report] brought against him by the Russian government earlier this week, calling the indictment "absurd and ungrounded." Prosecutors charged Khodorkovsky and business associate Platon Lebedev with money laundering and embezzlement based on allegations that Khodorkovsky used his Open Russia Foundation [SourceWatch backgrounder] to funnel oil revenues away from oil company Yukos. If convicted on the new charges, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev could serve up to fifteen more years in prison. Khodorkovsky is eligible for parole for time served later this year following his May 2005 conviction for tax evasion [JURIST report], for which he received an eight-year prison sentence.

In a statement [text] posted on his defense website, Khodorkovsky said:

The next things that will happen are absolutely obvious to us: false and fraudulent evidence, statements by frightened or misled pseudo-witnesses, and most likely a guilty verdict. It is a shameful farce that has nothing to do with the rule of law.

The reason why all this is being done is also quite obvious. The people who invented the "Khodorkovsky case" in order to steal Yukos, the most prosperous company in Russia, are very much afraid to see me set free and want to insure themselves against the possibility of my conditional release....

They still have a potential exit strategy though, along with the opportunity to save their position and secure long-term guarantees. Their only chance is the timely and voluntary transfer of power in Russia by the means of honest, fair and transparent elections, in which the new president of our country will be elected. This new person should have nothing in common with the giant corruption machine that has paralyzed Russia, and this person should display a respect toward judicial independence....

A priori false accusations ordered by political authorities are easily stamped by investigators and signed off by the court. And the current ruling elite and power bears no shame. The court, a subservient instrument of the vertical of power, will of course deliver a guilty verdict...
On Tuesday, US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack criticized the charges [JURIST report], saying they raise "serious questions about the rule of law in Russia." AFP has more.

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