Russia takes heat from Yukos conviction

May 31, 2005 at 9:08 AM
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MOSCOW, May 31 (UPI) -- Russia sentenced the founder of the Yukos energy group and a partner to nine years behind bars Tuesday for fraud and tax evasion.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who have been in jail since 2003, will serve their sentences, minus time already spent behind bars, in a penal colony, Interfax reported. Defense lawyers vowed to appeal.

International criticism of the Kremlin's apparently direct hand in what is widely seen as a Soviet-style show trial calculated to punish Khodorkovsky for funding opponents of President Vladimir Putin -- at the expense of rule of law -- was immediate.

U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., vowed to urge Congress to work for Russia's expulsion from the Group of Eight nations.

He said Russia shouldn't be allowed to be considered a democratic country after Khodorkovsky's sentence and it is clear the Kremlin is rolling back, not relying upon, the nation's own laws.

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