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Support Growing For Khodorkovsky Release on Parole - Poll

Mikhail Khodorkovsky
MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) - The share of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's sympathizers has increased over the past few months, and of those who trust the official charges brought against him has shrunk, the Levada-Center pollster has reported.

Thirty-three percent of respondents in Russia and 40% in Moscow said they continue to follow the developments in the Yukos case, according to the Levada Center's posting, covering a poll conducted in October. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they do not care and another 23% said they did not hear anything about it or were undecided.

Thirty-one percent t of those questioned said they would not object to Khodorkovsky's release on parole, and 20% said they opposed this prospect, compared to, respectively, 22% and 33% in 2007.

Most of those who want Khodorkovsky to be freed are Muscovites (62%), managers (46%), businessmen (45%), Internet users (43%) and people with a higher education, sociologists said after polling respondents in 130 populated areas of 45 regions.

Also, the share of those who think that President Dmitry Medvedev must pardon Khodorkovsky has increased, reaching 36% (67% in Moscow), compared to 28% in April 2008.

Twenty-six percent of those surveyed said that Khodorkovsky remains in prison mostly because "his release may create problems for those who have appropriated the Yukos company." Seventeen percent said this is due to his political convictions and criticism of the authorities, and 15% said the reason for this is that "high-placed officials hate Khodorkovsky."

Since Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were sentenced in the second criminal case, started ten months ago, the number of respondents who think it was fair has decreased by half. Ten percent of respondents, compared to 19% in January 2011, said that the verdict was passed "in compliance with the evidence uncovered," and 27% (compared to 22%) said the verdict "was ordered from above."

Meanwhile, Russian citizens are becoming increasingly critical of the role the Yukos case plays in the country's life. Only 4% of citizens polled think the money earned at one time from selling Yukos were put into programs to develop housing utility services (compared to 10% in December 2009).

Three percent of those surveyed said they did feel the benefits of the authorities' decision to take away the company from the Yukos owners. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said "only businessmen close to the authorities and government executives" benefited from the company's bankruptcy and sell-off.

Moscow' Khamovnichesky Court on December 30 2010 sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 13.5 years in prison. Taking the verdict in the first criminal case into account, the overall term each will serve is 14 years. The countdown started from February 2007, but the terms served under the first case will be taken into account, so the final term begins from 2003, the court ruled.

It was a second criminal case started against them, under which both were charged with large-scale organized misappropriation of assets and money-laundering.

Khodorkovsky described the second case as politically and corruption-motivated, and said that it had been initiated by people who are against his release. He claimed his prosecution was due to his support for opposition.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were moved from the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention facility in Moscow to their prisons on June 10. Khodorkovsky was taken to Prison No. 7 in Segezha, Karelia, and Lebedev was moved to Velsk in the Arkhangelsk region.

Russia, YUKOS, Khodorkovsky -Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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