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Putin Says Russian State Won't Bankrupt Yukos

17 June 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said today his government does not want to see Russia's giant oil company Yukos go bankrupt.

Putin, speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, said his government "will do its best to prevent the collapse of the company."

The former head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovskii, and another major shareholder, are currently on trial in Moscow on charges of massive tax evasion and fraud. Khodorkovskii supporters have said the charges against him are politically motivated because he funded opposition parties.

Yukos is facing a $3.4 billion tax claim which the company has said may drive it into bankruptcy. The recent warning has caused Yukos share price to tumble.

Reports say Putin's remarks prompted a 20 percent rise in the company share price.