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Court Denies Bail to Russian Oligarch - 2003-11-11

A Moscow court has denied bail to Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He has been in jail since last month on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The three-judge panel turned down an appeal by Mr. Khodorkovsky after a two-hour hearing that included a video appearance by the jailed businessman from the cell where he is being held.

The judges asked Mr. Khodorkovsky his name and residence information before they closed the hearing to the public at the prosecutors' request.

Under the current order, Mr. Khodorkovsky can be held in jail until December 30, but the period can be extended. He faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

The former head of Russia's largest oil company, Yukos, is one of a handful of so-called oligarchs who made vast fortunes a decade ago when they acquired state-controlled companies at bargain prices. He is accused of large-scale fraud and tax evasion.

But his lawyers argue that the Kremlin ordered his arrest after he began openly funding political parties that are running against President Vladimir Putin's supporters in parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. Mr. Putin says the case is a matter of law and has nothing to do with politics.