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Russian presidential aide 'ashamed' over Khodorkovsky allegations

Viktor DanilkinA legal adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday he was ashamed to hear allegations that the judge in the second trial of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky did not reach the verdict on his own. "As a [former] judge, I feel ashamed that such things happen," Veniamin Yakovlev said. "I always tried to make sure that there were absolutely no such incidents. Such things must not happen in a court." Natalya Vasilyeva, an aide to Khamovniki District Court Judge Viktor Danilkin, said on February 14 the verdict in Khodorkovsky's second trial was determined by "higher" powers, specifically judges at the Moscow City Court, which oversees the district courts.

Danilkin dismissed the report as slander.

Yakovlev said the situation had to be examined very thoroughly, first of all by the Russian judicial community.

"Until that happens, I have no right to discuss the details or pass judgment on this situation," he said.

Vasilyeva voluntarily took a lie detector test on Thursday, which showed that she had made her statement of her own free will and had received no monetary reward for it.

On December 30, 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.

The charges are widely viewed as political revenge by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for Khodorkovsky's support of the country's tiny opposition movement. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are expected to remain in jail until 2017.


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