Alexa

Russia to keep Khodorkovsky in prison until 2017

 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, is escorted to a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch who posed...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, smile from behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. ...
 Marina Khodorkovskaya, mother of Mikhail Khodorkovsky , looks on at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billio...
 Natalya Lebedeva, wife of Platon Lebedev, speaks at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch w...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, stands behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionair...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky smiles from behind bars at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch who p...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev smile from behind bars at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. ...
 Boris Khodorkovsky, father of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is seen at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire ...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev stand behind bars at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodo...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in th...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky looks on from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the ...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, talk behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, De...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, top center, smiles from a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in ...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, center right, smile from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, ...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, looks from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is i...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the...
 The Parents of jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky,  mother Marina, left, and father Boris, second left, listen to judge Viktor Dan...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, is escorted to a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch who posed...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, smile from behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Marina Khodorkovskaya, mother of Mikhail Khodorkovsky , looks on at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billio...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Natalya Lebedeva, wife of Platon Lebedev, speaks at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch w...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, stands behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionair...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky smiles from behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire oligarch who p...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev smile from behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Boris Khodorkovsky, father of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is seen at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev stand behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Khodo...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in th...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky looks on from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, talk behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, De...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, top center, smiles from a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, center right, smile from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, looks from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is i...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the...

Russia Khodorkovsky

The Parents of jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, mother Marina, left, and father Boris, second left, listen to judge Viktor Dan...

Jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to six more years in prison Thursday following a trial seen as payback for his defiance of Vladimir Putin and as a test of the rule of law in Russia.
The ruling drew immediate condemnation from the U.S. and European governments, who called it evidence of the use of Russia's judicial system for political ends.
Khodorkovsky's mother cursed the judge when the sentence was read and said it was clear that he had come under strong pressure and could not have written the "nonsense that he read today."
Putin, now prime minister, has been seen as the driving force behind the unrelenting legal attack on Khodorkovsky, who challenged him early in his presidency. As Putin considers a return to the presidency in 2012, he appears unwilling to risk the possibility that a freed Khodorkovsky could help lead his political foes.
The outcome of the second trial exposes how little has changed under President Dmitry Medvedev, despite his promises to strengthen the rule of law and make courts an independent branch of government.
"It's a very cruel and absurd sentence that proves the well-known fact that Russia has no independent courts," said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran rights activist and chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group. "An independent court would have acquitted the defendants and punished the investigators who concocted the charges."
Judge Viktor Danilkin sentenced Khodorkovsky to 14 years, as prosecutors had demanded, but said the new term will be counted from his 2003 arrest and run concurrently with his first term of eight years.
Following a 20-month trial, the judge convicted Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev on charges of stealing almost $30 billion worth of the oil that his Yukos company produced from 1998 to 2003 and laundering the proceeds. Lebedev also was sentenced to 14 years.
In a statement read by defense lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant to reporters outside the courthouse, Khodorkovsky expressed some optimism, saying: "We have not lost hope and nor should our friends."
Khodorkovsky also said the verdict showed that the "Churov rule" was alive and well, referring to a comment made a few years ago by Vladimir Churov, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, that his first rule was that Putin is always right. And if he's not, "it means I have misunderstood something."
"The judge was only the nominal author of the verdict," Klyuvgant said. "It makes no sense to give any assessment or analysis of a verdict where one sentence contradicts another in a sign that it had more than one author."
The defense lawyers said much of the judge's verdict was copied from the indictment and the prosecutors' final arguments.
When the sentence was announced in the courtroom, Khodorkovsky's mother burst out with an emotional "curse you and your children," seemingly directed at the judge.
"I believe that the judge is quite professional, and not stupid, so he couldn't write the nonsense that he read today himself. Obviously, he was subjected to pressure, and very strong pressure," Marina Khodorkovsky said.
Speaking outside the courthouse before the television cameras, she addressed her remarks to Medvedev. "Mr. President, a man of the same generation as my son, aren't you ashamed to be the servant of a conscienceless, immoral man," she said.
She urged the president to think about his own teenage son. "How will you explain that to him, how will you look him in the eyes, will you be able to justify your actions?" Marina Khodorkovskaya said. "It's not too late, and you still have time to step back and think."
Khodorkovsky's lawyers said they would appeal. Following the first trial, the appeals court reduced the sentence by one year.
The defense has described the charges as ridiculous, saying they reflected a lack of understanding of the oil business, including the payment of transit fees and export duties. The charges also contradicted the first trial, in which Khodorkovsky was convicted of evading taxes on Yukos profits.
Khodorkovsky had angered Putin by funding opposition parties in parliament, which at the time had the power to oppose Kremlin policies and influence the choice of prime minister. He also pursued his own oil export plans independent of the state pipeline system, and publicly questioned the appearance of Kremlin corruption.
After his arrest, the state confiscated Yukos, which was Russia's largest and fastest-growing oil company, and sold it off in pieces at fire-sale prices. Most ended up in the hands of state-controlled Rosneft.
Criticism of the trial quickly began to pour in from the United States and across Europe.
"We remain concerned by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends, particularly now that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been sentenced to the maximum penalty," said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
"Simply put, the Russian government cannot nurture a modern economy without also developing an independent judiciary that serves as an instrument for furthering economic growth, ensuring equal treatment under the law, and advancing justice in a predictable and fair way."
Medvedev has made it his mission to modernize Russia by encouraging foreign investment, and an acquittal of Khodorkovsky or even a lighter sentence would have helped reassure businesses that Russia was prepared to strengthen protection of property rights.
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AP writers Vladimir Isachenkov, Mansur Mirovalev and Lynn Berry contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-04 08:25 GMT+08:00