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Khodorkovskii Lawyers Report Harrassment

Mikhail Khodorkovskii (file photo) 23 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian authorities have annulled the visa of Robert Amsterdam -- a lawyer for jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovskii -- and ordered him to leave the country.

Amsterdam is a Canadian citizen and has been one of Khodorkovskii's principle contacts with the foreign media. He told Reuters this morning that plainclothes FSB officers turned up at his hotel room in Moscow last night, canceled his visa and informed him he had 24 hours to leave the country or face arrest.

In a related development, three other Khodorkovskii lawyers -- all Russians -- say they have been summoned to the Russian Justice Ministry.

"We have been summoned for a talk [at the Justice Ministry]," lawyer Yelena Levina told RFE/RL today. "As far as we understood from the phone conversation [with the Justice Ministry] yesterday, they have been asked to write a proposal that we should be stripped of our [legal] credentials."

Another of the three lawyers said he believed there was a move to have them stripped of their legal credentials. There has been no official statement from the Justice Ministry.

Also today, a spokesman for Russia's prison service said Khodorkovskii will be transferred out of Moscow Oblast to officially start serving his prison sentence within 10 days. He did not say to what region of the country Khodorkovskii will be sent.

The news comes after a Moscow appeals court yesterday upheld Khodorkovskii's fraud conviction. The court shortened his nine-year jail sentence to eight years.

(RFE/RL's Russian Service/Interfax/AFP/Reuters)

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