[JURIST] Former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website, JURIST news archive] was transferred to Moscow on Tuesday to face new charges [JURIST report] of embezzlement and theft, according to court officials. Platon Lebedev [defense website], Khodorkovsky's former partner at OAO Yukos Oil Co. [TIME backgrounder], was also transferred to Moscow from the Siberian region of Chita, where both men have been serving prison sentences following their convictions [JURIST report] for fraud and tax evasion in 2005. Critics have said that these charges are politically motivated due to Khodorkovsky's opposition of former Russian president Vladimir Putin [JURIST news archives]. Their transfer was ordered [JURIST report] last week by a judge for the District Court in Moscow and preliminary hearings [Moscow Times report] are set for March 3.
Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year sentence, although he maintains that he is innocent. He requested early release last July, but his application was rejected [JURIST reports] in August because he disobeyed guards at the Krasnokamensk penal colony [Guardian backgrounder], refused to participate in a training program, and faced the possibility of additional charges. Khodorkovsky has appealed [JURIST report] that decision.