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Russia's penitentiary authorities confirmed on Wednesday the release of terminally
Russia's penitentiary authorities confirmed on Wednesday the release of terminally ill ex-Yukos official Vasily Aleksanyan on a 50 million ruble ($1.8 billion) bail.

"As the required bail was offered for Aleksanyan, he was released on Tuesday," a Federal Penitentiary Service spokesman said.

The official said the guards had been removed from Aleksanyan's hospital ward.

"I do not know whether he is now in hospital or has been taken away by his relatives," the official said.

Aleksanyan's lawyer Yelena Lvova said her client would celebrate New Year in hospital. "Discharging him is out of the question. He is dependent on the hospital, where he will surely stay for some time," she said.

The lawyer said that Aleksanyan's health depended on his temperature, adding that he had started taking a course of antiretroviral drugs and was feeling better.

The Moscow City Court ordered on December 8 that Aleksanyan be released as soon as the money was received.

Aleksanyan, 36, diagnosed with AIDS a few months after his detention in April 2006, said earlier in a statement: "The court's decision to set bail at such an unbelievable sum instead of granting an unconditional release appears to be a cynical travesty of the law and of good sense."

Aleksanyan was accused of embezzlement and money laundering. He has become almost blind and developed cancer of the liver, and also contracted tuberculosis.

He was moved to a clinic in February after a court ruling. His lawyers had demanded that he should be released from custody due to his poor health, and prosecutors had insisted Aleksanyan undergo medical treatment in custody.

Legal proceedings launched against the now defunct oil company Yukos in 2003, seen by many as politically motivated, resulted in the conviction of many executives and shareholders, including founder and CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky declared a hunger strike in January demanding medical treatment for Aleksanyan.


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