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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that officials
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that officials - and especially the head of state - should not comment on the potential outcome of trials, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky's new case.

Asked whether he could predict the result of the current case against the jailed Yukos founder, Medvedev, a former lawyer, told the Novaya Gazeta daily: "For public officials and for the president there is no and there must be no predictability in any trial, including the one you mentioned."

"Perhaps, someone can predict the outcome of a case," Medvedev said. "But for a state official, all the more so for the president, there is no and there can be no freedom to comment."

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who are already serving eight-year sentences for fraud and tax evasion, are facing fresh embezzlement and money laundering charges totaling about $50 billion, which could see their jail terms extended by 21 years.

Defense lawyers acting for the businessmen have called their clients political prisoners, and say the new charges are "disgraceful" and unsubstantiated.


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