Russia's former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said in a Moscow court today that the Kremlin ordered the arrest of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky because he had angered then-President Vladimir Putin by funding opposition parties.
Kasyanov told the court hearing that Putin told him the owners of the Yukos oil firm -- Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev -- had been arrested in 2003 because they had given funds to Russia's Communist Party.
Kasyanov, now a Russian opposition leader, spoke to RFE/RL's Russian Service by telephone today about his witness testimony in the Yukos case.
"I gave my reasons why I believe that this trial is politically motivated and that the charges brought against [the former Yukos owners] are groundless," he said.
Khordorkovsky's business empire was subsequently carved up and sold off -- mostly to Russian state-controlled firms.
Russian officials have always denied any political motivation for the arrests.
with agency reports