Russia's Mikhail Khodorkovsky Faces Another 6 Years In Prison

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staphni
"(CNN)
A judge in Moscow sentenced Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Russia's Yukos oil company, and his business partner to 14 years in prison on corruption charges Thursday.

The sentence effectively adds six years behind bars for Khodorkovsky, since the judge set the sentence to begin in 2003 when he was initially imprisoned on other charges. Instead of a release in 2011, he will now be freed in 2017.

Khodorkovsky and partner Platon Lebedev were accused of stealing billions of dollars' worth of oil from Yukos production subsidiaries from 1998 to 2003. Khodorkovsky has already been convicted of underpaying taxes on the oil and is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion.

""The verdict is illegal, we will of course appeal it,"" said Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Yuri Schmidt. ""It was delivered under pressure from the executive branch which is still headed by Mr. Putin."" He added the verdict came under pressure from ""people who are interested in keeping Mr. Khodorkovsky in prison.""Russia was hit with international criticism after the former oil tycoon was convicted of money laundering and embezzlement earlier this month. The United States, in particular, called it a case of selective prosecution.

Khodorkovsky had expressed a desire to run for office at one time and funded opposition political parties. 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.

""Allegations about some kind of selective prosecution in Russia are groundless,"" the Russian Foreign Ministry said in response to the criticism. ""Russian courts deal with thousands of cases where entrepreneurs are prosecuted.""

Khodorkovsky's son, Pavel, told CNN after the conviction that his father will appeal the verdict."