Khodorkovsky ends hunger strike in Russia prison

Khodorkovsky ends hunger strike in Russia prison

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[JURIST] Former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday ended his two-day hunger strike after a spokesperson for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official website] indicated that Medvedev was familiar with a complaint Khodorkovsky made regarding the three-month extension of his detention. On Monday, Khodorkovsky sent an open letter to Russia's Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] contending that Russian courts are ignoring recent changes in the law that allow people charged with economic crimes to be released on bail pending the outcome of their trials. Khodorkovsky indicated the goal of his hunger strike had been achieved [press release], stating:

In a situation when it is officially declared that President Medvedev is informed about the essence of the problem, I do not consider it necessary to insist on the form of discussion within government structures. I am convinced that now the position of Chairman of the Supreme Court, which he promised to inform to the public, as well as court decisions in particular cases, will reflects position of President of the Russian Federation as the author of the bill – the guarantor of rights and freedom of citizens of Russia.

He also indicated his hunger strike was to change the judicial system going forward and not his current situation.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev [defense website] are currently serving eight-year prison sentences after being convicted [JURIST report] in 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges stemming from an attempt to embezzle and strip their Yukos [JURIST news archive] oil company of valuable assets. They are now charged with embezzling [JURIST report] USD $25 billion worth of oil produced by Yukos. The men have pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the current charges, and face up to 20 additional years in prison if convicted. Khodorkovsky has previously criticized the Russian legal system, questioning the fairness of trials and expressing the need for widespread reform of the Russian court system [JURIST reports].