Russian President Vladimir Putin is denying any political motivation behind the trial of the founder of oil-giant Yukos.
In an interview with Brazilian journalists published Sunday, President Putin said the case was criminal in nature.
The founder of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is being tried on charges of tax fraud, and the government said Friday it will auction-off Yukos's largest unit next month to pay back taxes. Some company officials and analysts have said the prosecution is part of an effort to settle accounts with a potential political rival.
Meanwhile, the Interfax News Agency on Sunday quoted an unnamed Yukos board member as saying that Russian law enforcement agencies are conducting late-night searches of the homes and offices of dozens of top and middle-level Yukos managers.Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.