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Khodorkovsky case picks up speed

MOSCOW, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The trial of jailed Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky is picking up speed, the tycoon's lawyer told the Moscow Times Wednesday.

Khodorkovsky, believed to be the richest man in Russia and one of the richest in the world, is the founder, chief shareholder and former chief executive of the gigantic Yukos oil corporation, the largest oil corporation in Russia. He and his longtime close business ally Platon Lebedev are in jail in Moscow awaiting trial on charges of massive tax evasion and fraud conducted as part of an organized criminal group. If convicted, they could each face up to 10 years in jail.

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"I have this sense that the case is being sped up," Yury Schmidt, one of Khodorkovsky's lawyers told reporters. "The pace picked up this week."

On Tuesday, the Moscow Arbitration Court rejected an attempt by Yukos to cover part of its $3.4 billion tax bill to the Russian government with its shares in the Sibneft Siberian oil company.

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