Russian protestors offer support for jailed tycoon

30th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Around 100 people gathered Saturday outside the headquarters of Russia's FSB security agency, formerly the KGB, in support of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other "political prisoners".

Several demonstrators held up pictures of the former head of oil giant Yukos, who is facing an additional 14-year sentence on top of the eight-year term he is currently serving.

Pamphlets written by opposition politicians and figures from the world of culture denounced his trial, which concluded this week, as absurd.

One pamphlet carried a picture of Khodorkovsky and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, saying: "It is getting easier and easier to distinguish the light from the darkness."

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was jailed for eight years in 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges.

His supporters argue they were trumped up to punish the tycoon for daring to finance opposition parties.

The demonstration coincided with events to mark a day of remembrance of victims of Soviet-era political repression.

"The current government is the heir to the Soviet era and acts in the same way by punishing people which don't agree with it," said Valery Borshchev of the Helsinki Group, a human rights organisation.

© 2010 AFP

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