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Russia court extends prison term for former Yukos oil executive now in solitary

[JURIST] A Russian court on Wednesday extended the jail term [defense release] of former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] until February 2009. Khodorkovsky headed the now-bankrupt Yukos Oil Co. [Time backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and was sent to prison by the Russian government in 2005 to serve an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion [JURIST reporst]. The extension follows the court's rejection of Khodorkovsky's July application for parole which he has since challenged [JURIST report]. His parole was denied based in part on alleged violations of prison rules, and on Thursday, Khodorkovsky was sent to solitary confinement [RIA report] after giving a non-permitted interview [text] to Esquire magazine. Lawyers for Khodorkovsky have called the interview a pretext [defense release] for the court to deny his request for parole. RIA Novosti has more.

Khodorkovsky is facing 20 more years in prison if convicted on new charges [press release; Bloomberg report] of theft and money laundering. Prosecutors had first indicted Khodorkovsky on the additional money laundering charges in February 2007. A Russian court had originally ordered that he be transferred to a Moscow prison while the charges were investigated, but that order was later vacated despite a lawsuit by his lawyers [JURIST reports] seeking the move. Khodorkovsky, an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has always maintained his innocence and insisted that the charges against him are politically motivated, but Russian prosecutors have denied those allegations [JURIST report].

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