Russian president orders study of Khodorkovsky sentence

MOSCOW Mon Mar 5, 2012 12:22pm IST

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev walks to cast his vote in a polling station in Moscow March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev walks to cast his vote in a polling station in Moscow March 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool

Related Topics

Stocks

   

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Dmitry Medvedev held out an olive branch to opposition protesters on Monday, telling Russia's prosecutor general to study the legality of 32 criminal cases including the jailing of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Medvedev also told the justice minister to explain why Russia had refused to register the liberal opposition movement PARNAS, whose leaders include former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

The Kremlin announced Medvedev's decision a day after his ally, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, won a six-year term in a presidential election. Putin will be inaugurated in May and has said Medvedev will be his prime minister.

Khodorkovsky, who headed what was Russia's biggest oil company, Yukos, and was once the country's richest man, was arrested in 2003 and jailed on tax evasion and fraud charges after showing political ambitions and falling out with Putin.

He received a new sentence in 2010 and is expected to stay in prison until 2016 in a case which Putin's opponents say is politically motivated.

Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, told Reuters the true significance of Medvedev's initiative could be judged only when the outcome of the investigation was known.

"There's been so many ... orders that you run out of words to comment," he said by telephone.

"But if ... the prosecutor and the president start to conform with the law, we will know it from the result. The lawlessness of this sentence is so glaring that there's nothing to study there."

Khodorkovsky's former business partner, Platon Lebedev, was also on the list of cases Medvedev ordered the prosecutor general to study and report back on by April 1.

The order followed a meeting last month at which opposition leaders handed Medvedev a list of people they regard as political prisoners and want released from prison.

Medvedev's move could be an empty gesture to the organisers of the biggest protests since Putin rose to power 12 years ago or it could be a parting shot by a man who presented himself as the more liberal of the ruling "tandem" with Putin.

Putin has called Khodorkovsky a "thief" who should sit in jail. Medvedev said last year he saw no threat if Khodorkovsky were freed.

Last year Medvedev asked legal experts to look into Khodorkovsky's case along with other high-profile cases, but the initiative resulted in no review of the court decision.

Prosecutors have said Khodorkovsky stole $27 billion in oil from subsidiaries of Yukos through pricing schemes and laundered some of the money, charges his lawyers dismissed as an absurd, politically motivated pretext to keep him behind bars.

Khodorkovsky, one of the tycoons who made fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, denies any wrongdoing. He says he has been prosecuted over business practises that were both legal and widely used.

(Editing by Timothy Heritage and Elizabeth Piper)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Plane Crash

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Development Report

Development Report

U.N. urges sustained effort to improve flagging development.  Full Article 

Downed Plane

Downed Plane

"Weeks or months" until Malaysian remains from MH17 can be returned home - PM.  Full Article 

Food Scandal

Food Scandal

China probes 581 firms, restaurants as food safety scare spreads.  Full Article 

Plane Crash

Plane Crash

Taiwan says weather not seen as cause of plane crash that killed 48.  Full Article 

Fighting Polio

Fighting Polio

Nigeria may have no polio cases next year, says Bill Gates.  Full Article 

Health Study

Health Study

Paracetamol no better than placebo for low back pain, study finds.  Full Article 

Strategic Plans

Strategic Plans

China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020.  Full Article 

Leaving Russia

Leaving Russia

Disenchanted with Putin, some Russians vote with their feet.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage