Jailed Russian oil tycoon calls off hunger strike
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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.


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

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