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Russian Rights Group To Assist Whistleblower In Khodorkovsky Case

Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trial in December before receiving a verdict some say was premeditated.
MOSCOW -- Russia's Association of Human Rights Organizations (AGORA) says it will assist a court employee who claims a judge was pressured into convicting former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on additional fraud charges, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

AGORA head Pavel Chikov told journalists in Moscow on February 16 the association's lawyers will focus on "minimizing possible negative consequences in connection with Natalya Vasilyeva's statement," which was made public earlier this week.

In December, judge Viktor Danilkin found Khodorkovsky guilty of stealing billions of dollars of oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds. The judge extended Khodorkovsky's prison term, which was due to end this year, through 2017.

Vasilyeva, an assistant to Danilkin, said in an interview published on February 14 that senior officials had pressured Danilkin into delivering the verdict. Danilkin denies the charge.

On February 15, Russia's leading human rights activists sent a petition to Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika asking him to open an investigation into Vasilyeva's claims.

AGORA is an association of human rights organizations and lawyers dealing with human rights issues throughout Russia. It has been operating since 2005 and has partnership relations with similar organizations in six Russian regions.

Read more in Russian here