Court raps Russia on Khodorkovsky, rejects politics claims

A Russian court refused to back claims the arrest was politically motivated.

Moscow: A European court on Tuesday censured
Russia over the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky but
refused to back claims the arrest was politically motivated,
as its former richest man requested parole.

The supporters of Khodorkovsky, who turned Yukos into
Russia`s biggest oil firm before it was seized and broken up
by the state, have long argued he was imprisoned as punishment
for daring to challenge strongman Vladimir Putin.

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to
pay USD 14,380 in damages to the tycoon and USD 21,000 in
costs after finding violations in the conditions of his arrest
and subsequent detention.

However, the Strasbourg-based court refused to back
his central argument that the case is "politically motivated",
it said in a statement.

The decision came just after the Preobrazhensky
district court in Moscow announced it had received a request
from Khodorkovsky for parole and amid tentative signs of a
shift in the attitude towards the case by the authorities.

"I ask you to examine the issue of my parole,"
Khodorkovsky said in a request to a Moscow court, posted on
his website late yesterday.

"The articles under which I have been convicted
provide for this possibility once half the sentence has been
completed," he added.

Khodorkovsky has been in detention since 2003 when he
was arrested on his jet on the runway of a Siberian airport.

The former magnate and his co-accused Platon
Lebedev are serving an eight- year sentence issued in 2005 for
tax evasion and are set to stay in jail until 2016 after
receiving another 13-year sentence for fraud.



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