Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a review of the conviction of former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The move came hours after Vladimir Putin won the country's presidential election.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered prosecutors to review the conviction of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
A statement released by the Kremlin said the president had ordered Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika to conduct "a review of the legality and basis of the convictions of Russian citizens," including Khodorkovsky, his business partner, Platon Lebedev and 30 others.
The move appears to have come as a result of a meeting President Medvedev had with leaders of Russia's opposition movement last month. Russian media reported that the opposition leaders had used that meeting to present Medvedev with a list of names of people they regarded as political prisoners.
Khordokovsky's legal team reacted to the news with skepticism.
"This may just be a formality that means nothing," attorney Yury Shmidt told the RIA Novosti news agency. "Or it may be a signal that the people at the top decided to close the cases of Khordokovsky and Lebedev … to prevent it from causing problems for the authorities."
Khordokovsky controlled the Yukos Oil Company and was thought to be Russia's richest man when special forces stormed his private plane on the tarmac of a Siberian airport in 2003. He was also one of Putin's most vocal critics.
Khordokovsky was convicted of fraud and tax evasion and thrown in jail, but was set to be released a few months ago. However, his term was extended until 2016 after he was convicted in a second trial on charges of embezzlement and other financial crimes. Putin's critics saw the second trial as a sham to keep Khordokosky behind bars for the duration of the presidential election campaign.
pfd/ncy (AP, AFP)