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Council Of Europe Questions Yukos Arrests

25 January 2005 -- The Council of Europe today passed a resolution questioning the legitimacy of the arrest and prosecution by Russian authorities of former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovskii and other managers of the now dissolved Russian oil giant.

The resolution questions the fairness, impartiality, and objectivity of the authorities, who, it said, appeared to have acted excessively, disregarding fundamental rights of defense.

The many apparent flaws in the legal process, plus the political and economic background to the case, encouraged the view that legal action taken by Russian authorities went beyond norms of justice. Rather, the aim of the state appeared to weaken and intimidate political opponents and regain a strategic resource.

Khodorkovskii had financed opposition parties. He was arrested in October 2003 and has since been held in pretrial detention. He is accused of fraud and failure to pay millions in taxes, and faces up to 10 years' imprisonment if convicted.