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Khodorkovsky Case Has Serious Political Aspect - Ombudsman Lukin

Mikhail KhodorkovskyMOSCOW. Dec 9 (Interfax) - Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has abstained from comment on a possible sentence on former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and former Menatep Group head Platon Lebedev.

"There is no doubt, this problem has a serious political aspect," he told a Thursday press conference in Moscow.

Vladimir Lukin"It would be inappropriate for an ombudsman to comment on the upcoming sentence. That is the court's area," he said. "Let us wait for the sentence and see the public reaction," Lukin said.

Khodorkovsky was arrested in October 2003. On May 31, 2005, the Meshchansky Court in Moscow sentenced him and Lebedev, former Menatep CEO, to nine years' imprisonment on charges of fraud and tax evasion, after which the two were sent to a penitentiary in the Chita region. The Moscow City Court later cut their sentences to eight years.

When their first trial was drawing to an end, a second criminal action had been launched against them on charges of large-scale theft by an organized group and attempts to legalize stolen property. The two men were returned to Moscow to stand their second trial in 2009 and have been kept in a remand jail since then.

The Prosecutor General's Office had said earlier that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had been charged with large-scale embezzlement of somebody else's property entrusted to them and its legalization via abuse of office by an organized group.

The Prosecutor General's Office said earlier that a preliminary investigation had established that, forming an organized group with principal shareholders of the Yukos oil company and other persons, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev committed embezzlement via the appropriation of shares in subsidiaries of Eastern Oil Company worth 3.6 billion rubles before June 12, 1998 and via the legalization of embezzled shares to the same sum in the subsidiaries of Eastern Oil Company in 1998-2000.

In addition, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been charged with embezzling via the appropriation in 1993-2003 of oil worth more than 892.4 billion rubles belonging to Samaraneftegaz, Yuganskneftegaz and Tomskneftegaz VNK, which were Yukos subsidiaries, and via the legalization of part of these funds - 487.4 billion rubles and $7.5 billion - in 1998-2004.

A number of individuals and companies have been qualified as the aggrieved parties, on which the prosecution believes the defendants inflicted large-scale damages.

The Moscow Khamovniki District Court will start reading the sentence on December 15. The prosecution demands 14 years in custody in a general penitentiary for each defendant.


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