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Khodorkovsky case affected Russia's business climate - business leader

Mikhail KhodorkovskyMOSCOW, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - The case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky affected foreign investment and the business climate in Russia, a Russian business community leader said in an interview with Kommersant on Thursday.

The president of Russia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, said the investors' opinion about Russia's legal system was affected by allegations of procedural violations and selective use of law during Khodorkovsky's second trial.

"If there is no convincing answers to those questions, trust in the legal system drops," he said, adding that "trust in the system of justice is very important" for favorable investment and business climate.

On New Year's Eve, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were sentenced to another six years in jail after being found guilty on new charges of stealing millions of tons of oil from their now defunct company Yukos. The two have already served eight years on fraud charges.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in early March the notorious second case against the former oil magnate had no major impact on Russia's foreign investment climate, citing the Rosneft-BP share swap as an example.

The charges are widely viewed as political revenge by Putin for Khodorkovsky's support of the country's tiny opposition movement. The two men are expected to remain in jail until 2017, well after the 2012 presidential election.

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