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Russian Court Upholds Khodorkovsky Verdict


Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2011

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2011

A Moscow court has upheld the second conviction of former Russian Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Planton Lebedev.

But the court Tuesday reduced their prison terms by one year, meaning they likely will stay behind bars until 2016.

Both are serving prison time on charges of tax evasion and fraud. The Kremlin leveled additional charges of money laundering and stealing oil.

Khodorkovsky's supporters outside the Moscow courthouse chanted "disgrace" and "shame" when the decision was announced. Khodorkovsky's mother burst into tears. His lawyers promise to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Khodorkovsky and his backers say all the charges against him are politically motivated because he supports politicians opposed to former president-turned-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Amnesty International has declared Khodorkovsky and Lebedev prisoners of conscience.

Khodorkovsky said before Tuesday's court ruling that President Dmitry Medvedev would have to decide what Russia needs more - a state governed by the rule of law or the opportunity for unlawful judicial reprisals.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev built Yukos into Russia's largest oil company. The Kremlin seized Yukos when they were charged with tax evasion fraud in 2005. Russian officials broke up the company and sold off its pieces to pay off what they say was Khodorkovsky's tax bill.

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