Khodorkovsky accused of violating prison rules: defence

31st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has received two reprimands from prison officials, a possible blow to his hopes to walk out of prison on parole, his defence said on Wednesday.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of Russia's largest oil company Yukos, is currently serving his second prison term in the northwestern Karelia region and is set to stay behind bars until 2016 after being convicted of fraud.

Both he and his co-accused Platon Lebedev were arrested in 2003 and have recently become eligible for parole.

"Over the past month, Mikhail Khodorkovsky received two reprimands," Khodorkovsky's defence said in a statement.

In the first instance he gave a pack of cigarettes to a fellow inmate, and in the second he was waiting for new work instructions from a foreman in his room after a welder failed to show up for the job, the defence said.

Khodorkovsky was reprimanded after the prison received his official request for parole earlier this summer, the defence said, suggesting that "Gulag traditions" die hard in Russia.

"Everything was beginning in the same manner in Krasnokamensk six years ago," the defence said, referring to a prison camp near the town of Chita in eastern Siberia where Khodorkovsky served his first sentence and was denied parole in 2008.

Earlier this year he was moved to Karelia following his second trial.

A court in the northern Arkhangelsk region last month rejected Lebedev's parole request, with the judge saying Khodorkovsky's co-accused had not shown any sign of remorse and had committed a string of violations of prison rules.

Those violations included losing his prison uniform and addressing a member of staff by the informal "you," officials said.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are serving an eight-year sentence for tax evasion handed down in 2005, and received a second term in December 2010 for fraud. They became eligible for parole after serving half of their prison term.

Their supporters claim they are political prisoners punished because Khodorkovsky dared to fund opposition to strongman leader Vladimir Putin but the authorities insist they committed serious financial crimes.

© 2011 AFP

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