[JURIST] A Russian court Thursday upheld a ruling that a new investigation into former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] and his partner Platon Lebedev [advocacy website] was illegal. The Moscow City Court supported Moscow's Basmanny Court ban on an investigation in Chita into new charges [JURIST report] against the former Yukos Oil [corporate website] executives, which included stealing government shares, expropriating oil, and laundering over $25 billion. Lawyers for the men repeated previous calls that the men should be transferred from the Siberian penal colony in Chita Oblast [Wikipedia backgrounder] to Moscow, a call which Russian prosecutors have ignored [JURIST report], despite a March court order [JURIST report] that was upheld [JURIST report] in April.
Khodorkovsky was convicted of tax evasion [JURIST report] in May 2005, and is currently serving an eight-year prison term. The additional charges, filed against him in February 2007, are based on allegations that Khodorkovsky used his Open Russia Foundation [SourceWatch backgrounder] to divert oil revenues away from Yukos. If convicted on the new charges, Khodorkovsky faces an additional 15 years in prison. Both the United States and Khodorkovsky [JURIST reports] believe the new charges to be politically motivated, a claim which Russia has denied [JURIST report]. RIA Novosti has more.