Jailed Russian oil tycoon calls off hunger strike

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 18:48

Moscow: Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail
Khodorkovsky on Wednesday called off a hunger strike over his
detention after officials confirmed President Dmitry Medvedev
had been informed of his complaint.

"My appeal has achieved its purpose. I am stopping the
hunger strike," Khodorkovsky said in a statement released by
his supporters a day after he began the hunger strike.

The former chief of Russian oil giant Yukos, once
Russia`s richest man, yesterday declared the hunger strike,
saying he has been kept in jail unlawfully.
He said a court decision to keep him in jail during his
second trial violated recent amendments pushed through by
Medvedev for executives accused of financial crimes not to be
kept in detention before and during trials.

Medvedev`s spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told reporters
late yesterday the president was aware of Khodorkovsky`s
hunger strike declaration.

"I am pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the civil
society in supporting my cause, and the transparency of the
information services of the president and the chairman of the
Supreme Court," Khodorkovsky said.

"Now, when it has been officially announced that
President Medvedev has been informed about the issue, I no
longer consider it necessary to proceed with discussing it
within the government structures."
The two-day hunger strike had been largely symbolic as
Khodorkovsky is already serving an eight-year prison sentence
on fraud and tax evasion charges and could not have been
released.

In the new trial, Khodorkovsky stands accused of stealing
millions of tonnes of oil and laundering money in fresh
charges that could see him jailed for 22 more years.

Khodorkovsky, 46, says the new charges are a rehash of
the original case and argues he is being prosecuted again
because the corrupt officials who have seized control of Yukos
fear seeing him go free.

Russian authorities insist Khodorkovsky committed massive
financial crimes during the controversial privatisations of
the 1990s in which he and other businessmen acquired immense
fortunes.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 18:48

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