News / Europe

Jailed Russian Oil Tycoon on Hunger Strike in Legal Protest

Imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has declared a hunger strike to protest what he says are violations of recent judicial reforms regarding pre-trial detention and sentences for economic crimes.

Imprisoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia's wealthiest man, declared his hunger strike in a letter to Russian Supreme Court Chairman, Vyacheslav Lebedev. The businessman's legal team posted the letter on his website.

A law signed last month by President Dmitri Medvedev prohibits pre-trial detention of individuals charged with economic crimes. Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year sentence on charges of fraud and tax evasion. A judge extended Khodorkovsky's term to account for pre-trial detention in a second trial in which he is accused of stealing oil and money laundering.

A guilty verdict could add another 22 years to his sentence. He denies all charges and human-rights activists say he was framed for opposing Kremlin policies.

Khodorkovsky notes he will remain imprisoned regardless of any court decisions. But he adds that if his rights regarding pre-trial detention are not honored, it will create a precedent that corrupt bureaucrats will use in hundreds of what he calls "lower-profile" cases. Suspects in Russia can spend up to three years in detention awaiting trial.

The businessman's attorney, Vadim Klyuvgant, told VOA the court completely ignored Mr. Medvedev's reforms.

Klyuvgant says the hunger strike is an extreme form of calling attention and also protesting an egregious violation of a law signed by the president to protect entrepreneurs against large-scale repression against them in recent years.

Mr. Medvedev signed the reforms following the death last November of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old attorney who represented the London-based Hermitage Capital Management, formerly the largest foreign investor in Russia. Magnitsky was accused of tax evasion and died of toxic shock and heart failure linked to pancreatitis.

Human-rights activists say it is common practice in Russia to deny medical attention to people in custody as a way to force them to cooperate with prosecutors or corrupt officials.

Khodorkovsky headed the now defunct Yukos Oil Company. Its senior officials were jailed on what observers say were false charges used as a pretext to steal the company.

Russian human-rights activist Lev Ponomarev estimates more than half of those accused of economic crimes in Russia are framed by corrupt officials bent on seizing their assets.

Ponomarev says Khodorkovsky's hunger strike represents a challenge to President Medvedev and asks whether the Russian leader will in any way react or make clear his demand that the law be executed.

Khodorkovsky says he will remain on a hunger strike until he receives confirmation Mr. Medvedev has been informed about non-application of the law.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid