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Russia Violated Prisoner's Rights, European Court Says


Vasily Aleksanian (center) arrives at a Moscow court in February.

Vasily Aleksanian (center) arrives at a Moscow court in February.

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian authorities violated the human rights of a jailed oil executive who has HIV/AIDS and who was not given proper medical treatment for his condition, Europe's Strasbourg-based human rights court has said.

Earlier this month, a Russian court ruled to free on bail Vasily Aleksanian, a former Yukos senior manager, who is also going blind and has cancer.

Aleksanian, 37, will be freed upon payment of a bail of 50 million rubles ($1.77 million), the Russian court ruled.

Aleksanian is under guard in austere conditions in a Moscow hospital, waiting for the bail to be raised, and his supporters have expressed anger at the Russian court's decision.

"... national authorities had failed to take sufficient care of the applicant's health ...," the European Court of Human Rights said in a statement posted on its site echr.coe.int. "This had undermined his dignity and entailed particularly acute hardship, causing suffering beyond that inevitably associated with a prison sentence and the illnesses he suffered from, which amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment."

Aleksanian is on trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Prosecutors earlier accused him of refusing to accept the medical treatment offered to him in jail in what they said was a ploy to delay his trial.

Aleksanian is a former vice president of Yukos, an oil firm whose chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was imprisoned in what was widely seen by political analysts as a Kremlin campaign to punish the businessman for his political ambitions.

"Having regard to its findings of violations...and especially in view of the gravity of the applicant's illnesses, the court considered that the applicant's continuous detention was unacceptable," said the court, located in the French city of Strasbourg. "It accordingly concluded that...the Russian government was under an obligation to replace detention on remand with another, reasonable and less stringent, measure of restraint, or with a combination of such measures, provided by Russian law."
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