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Russian Ombudsman: 'Political Aspect' To Khodorkovsky Case

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his former business partner and co-accused Platon Lebedev. A Russian Ombudsman acknowledges that politics is at the root of Khodorkovsky's case.
MOSCOW -- Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin says there is a political aspect to former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's case, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Talking to journalists on , Lukin initially declined to comment on Khodorkovsky's case. But answering an RFE/RL correspondent, Lukin said the case has a political aspect.

Lukin advocated waiting until the verdict is pronounced. Then we shall see how society reacts, Lukin said.

Former Yukos Oil Company head Khodorkovsky and his former associate Platon Lebedev went on trial on March 3, 2009 on charges of embezzling millions of tons of oil and money laundering. The verdict is expected next week.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to embezzlement. They are currently in jail on fraud and tax-evasion charges that critics say were fabricated to punish Khodorkovsky for financing opposition parties.

At the time of his arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man and seen as a political rival to then President Vladimir Putin.

Read in Russian here.