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Russian Court Delays Release of Ex-Yukos Chief - 2003-12-23

A Moscow court has ordered Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the oil company Yukos, held for three more months on charges of tax evasion.

The court ruled that Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, can be kept in jail for an additional three months while the prosecution is preparing charges of fraud and tax evasion against him. Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested October 25, and the extension means that he will stay in jail until after the March 14 presidential election.

Supporters of Mr. Khodorkovsky, who resigned as head of the oil company Yukos, say he was targeted by the government because of his financial support to opposition parties.

Most major shareholders of Yukos have either been jailed or forced into exile.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government is acting against Yukos and its executives in the name of law and order, and is not planning to redistribute property privatized in the 1990s.