Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Court Denies Khodorkovsky Parole Appeal

Mikhail Khodorkovsky in court in Chita
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The former boss of the Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has lost an appeal for early release from his Siberian prison, Russian news agencies reported.

Lawyers for Khodorkovsky, who is serving an eight-year prison term for large-scale tax evasion and fraud, say confirmation of the refusal to grant parole shows President Dmitry Medvedev's promises to reform the legal system have had little effect.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said the Chita Oblast court refused an appeal by Khodorkovsky's lawyers against a decision in August by another local court to refuse parole.

Khodorkovsky is entitled to ask for early release because he has served more than half his sentence, but the court in August said he had not shown sufficient willingness to reform.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, says he is the victim of corrupt officials under former President Vladimir Putin who wanted to carve up his business empire and who feared his political ambitions.

Khodorkovsky built Yukos-Menatep into one of the country's biggest business empires by buying state assets cheaply and trading commodities in the chaos following the fall of the Soviet Union.

His arrest in 2003 by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers at a Siberian airport sent shockwaves through Russia's business community, who feared the Kremlin would try to regain control of key oil-production assets sold off in the 1990s.

He was convicted in 2005 and is in prison in Chita, a remote town near the frontier with China, around 7,000 kilometers east of Moscow.

Russian officials say he was convicted for serious crimes in a fair trial and should serve his sentence. He denies his guilt.