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Medvedev says Khodorkovsky case must be cleared of political implications

January 26, 2012, 3:49 UTC+3

“Everything will depend on the relevant court rulings and on Khodorkovsky himself,” the president said

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MOSCOW, January 26 (Itar-Tass) —— President Dmitry Medvedev said he would like to case of former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky to be cleared of all political implications.

“I would like the entire political part to be removed from this case,” he said on Wednesday, January 25. “This is the life of one person and the case can be solved in accordance with legal criteria.”

When asked by one of the students at Moscow State University whether he had planned to pardon Khodorkovsky last summer but was not allowed to do so, Medvedev said. “That’s not true”.

“Everything will depend on the relevant court rulings and on Khodorkovsky himself,” the president said.

Medvedev stressed that the head of state has the right to pardon. “But he cannot pardon a person who has not made such a request,” he added.

“Khodorkovsky has not, and this is his ideological position,” the president said.

He believes that Khodorkovsky “is a person who has, unfortunately for him, turned into a bargaining chip. I don’t envy his plight. I feel sorry for him,” Medvedev said.

On May 24, 2011, the Moscow City Court changed the verdict handed down by Moscow's Khamovniki Court on December 30, 2010, which sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in jail for theft of oil and money laundering.

Moscow's Khamovniky Court Judge Viktor Danilkin said at the trial that “the guilt of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is borne out by the proof examined during the judicial investigation.”

The judge proclaimed Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty of stealing oil from a producing company and of laundering ill-gotten funds.

At the same time, the court dropped certain criminal charged against the defendants due to the statute of limitation. Lebedev's lawyer Konstantin Rivkin referred particularly to the episode concerning the theft of Eastern Oil Company (VNK) shares.

In May 2005, Moscow's Meshchansky Court found Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty under several articles of the Russian Criminal Code, including fraud and tax evasion and sentenced them to nine years in prison.

Later the Moscow City Court reduced the term to eight years.

Since the prison term begins from the time a person has been put in custody, Lebedev's term will end in July 2011, and Khodorkovsky's in October 2011.

In February 2007, the Prosecutor General's Office brought new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, accusing them of having legalised 450 billion roubles and 7.5 billion U.S. dollars in 1998-2004 by stealing state-owned shares as well as embezzling oil and legalising earnings from its sale.

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