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  Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Preliminary hearings on new charges against Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Preliminary hearings on new charges against Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner have started in Moscow.

Two Russian oil companies, Tomskneft and Samaraneftegaz, have filed a new 170 billion ruble ($4.7 billion) suit against Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.

Khodorkovsky shouted "It's a disgrace!" after being brought to Moscow's Khamovniki District Court, while his supporters threw a few carnations to him over a metal gate. The hearings are being held behind closed doors.

About 300 policemen are on duty outside the court building and the street has been closed to pedestrians, although no restrictions have been imposed on motor traffic

Khodorkovsky, 45, and Platon Lebedev, 42, are already serving eight-year sentences for tax evasion and theft charges. Many critics say the charges were politically motivated.

The new charges against them include the embezzlement of more than 890 billion rubles ($25 billion at the current rate of exchange) and laundering 487.4 billion rubles and $7.5 billion.

They are now facing total claims of about $50 billion, which their lawyers have described as "ridiculous."

Moscow City Court spokesperson Anna Usachyova earlier said that the Khamovniki Court had granted visiting rights to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev's five lawyers, allowing them to visit the prisoners at the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center. Khodorkovsky's wife was also permitted to visit her husband.

Once Russia's largest oil producer, Yukos collapsed after charges of tax evasion led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of the company's assets were bought up by state-run oil company Rosneft and it was declared bankrupt in 2006.


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