27 Dec 2010

State media: Russian court finds Khodorkovsky guilty

A judge in Moscow has found former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner guilty of corruption charges, state-run RIA-Novosti and Interfax news agencies said Monday. The trial, which began in March 2009, was the second for the two men.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, were charged with embezzlement and laundering of stolen property.


They are accused of stealing billions of dollars' worth of oil from Yukos production subsidiaries from 1998 to 2003, oil on which he's already been convicted of underpaying tax.

Ahead of the verdict, hundreds of supporters gathered outside the central Moscow courthouse.

Security officers, who maintained a heavy presence outside the building, whisked several people away while others stood in -5 C (22F) temperature chanting "Freedom" and "Russia without Putin" -- referring to the prime minister.

Khodorkovsky had expressed a desire to run for office at the time and funded opposition political parties. And he has said the trial was part of a Kremlin campaign to destroy him and take the company he built from privatization deals of the 1990s.

The Kremlin has denied any role.