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Pro-Kremlin party leader dismisses MEP criticism of Khodorkovsky case

Collage of EU and Russian FlagsMOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Khodorkovsky case is not politically motivated and European Parliament members jumped the gun in criticizing his sentence, Russia's ruling party leader Boris Gryzlov said on Tuesday.
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Members of the European Parliament led by Estonian Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe deputy Kristiina Ojuland moved to impose economic sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials involved in ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's trial and conviction.

"I do not think there is any political subtext in the court's verdict," Gryzlov of the United Russia party said. "Secondly, the judicial process is not over yet as there is also the appeal procedure."

The MEPs should take all of that into consideration and not jump to conclusions, he added.

Gryzlov, who is also speaker of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said it was only the opinion of a group of deputies, not the European Parliament as a whole and "not even the opinion of the human rights subcommittee."

Ojuland's press secretary, Joel Hirv, said sanctions remain the only possible way to make Russian authorities obey laws, as the European Parliament representatives along with other European institutions have tried hard to convince their Russian colleagues to do so without apparent results.

Earlier Ojuland backed sanctions against Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of corporate lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a detention center in Moscow. Her proposal for sanctions against Russian officials in Khodorkovsky's case was strongly supported by her European colleagues.

In late December, Moscow's Khamovniki District Court sentenced Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev to a total of 14 years in prison in a second trial involving Yukos assets. The two men, who already spent seven years in jail for fraud and tax evasion from their 2005 trial, could remain behind bars until 2017.

Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky was found guilty of stealing 218 million tons of oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds, worth around $100 million.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have repeatedly denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

Many Western countries and organizations, including the United States and the European Union, have condemned the verdict as harsh and unfair, and expressed concern over the fact that the judicial system in Russia has shown no signs of improvement despite President Dmitry Medvedev's pledge to make it just and transparent.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev's lawyers have already appealed the verdict.

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Russia, Europe - Russia, YUKOS, Khodorkovsky - Russia, Law, Corruption, Crime - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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