US protests upholding of Khodorkovsky case

US protests upholding of Khodorkovsky case

A Russian court's decision to uphold the conviction and prison sentence of business tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the legal system, the US State Department said Wednesday.

Tuesday's rejection of Khodorkovsky's appeal "affirms our concerns about serious due process violations and the use of the legal system for improper ends," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, adding it could also discourage foreign investment in Russia, DPA reported.

"Russia cannot nurture a modern economy without also developing an independent judiciary that serves as an instrument for furthering economic growth and modernization, and ensuring equal treatment under the law," Toner said.

The United States has long voiced concerns about the criminal case against Khodorkovsky. There are suspicions the case is driven by politics, as Khodorkovsky has been an outspoken critic of former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Khodorkovsky, 47, headed the Yukos oil company before his arrest in 2003. He was convicted in 2005 for buying state-owned oil at subsidized prices and reselling it at higher cost internationally and received an eight-year prison term.

His time behind bars was extended to 2017 after a 2010 conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges.

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