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Medvedev orders Khodorkovsky review

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a review of ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's convictions, which include fraud, tax evasion, theft and money laundering, and were believed by many to be politically motivated.

Khodorkovsky Medvedev 2012 03 05Enlarge
People hold portraits of jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky as they protest against the December 4 parliament elections in Moscow, on December 24, 2011. (YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a review of the convictions of oil-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and 31 other cases, including that of his business partner Platon Lebedev, reported Al Jazeera.

The decision to review Khodorkovsky's conviction came after Medvedev met with unregistered opposition parties on February 20, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website. It also came one day after Russia's election returned Vladimir Putin to the presidency, reported The New York Times.

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Khodorkovsky was once Russia's richest man and founder of the now-defunct oil giant Yukos, reported The Wall Street Journal. He was arrested at gunpoint on the tarmac of a Siberian airport in 2003, according to Bloomberg, in what he said was retribution for political opposition to Putin, who was president at the time. Initial charges were of fraud and tax evasion, but Khodorkovsky was later charged with theft and money laundering, bringing his sentence to 13 years.

Putin has frequently expressed his dislike for Khodorkovsky, reported The Times, referring to him in public as a thief and suggesting that he had been involved in murders while running Yukos.

In December 2011, a Kremlin panel reported that Khodorkovsky's conviction was flawed and should be overturned, according to The Wall Street Journal. The case reviews for Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and the other 30 convicted should be complete by April 1.

Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, said she was cautiously optimistic about Medvedev’s statement, reported The Times.

"Khodorkovsky was convicted illegally and it has been long necessary to free him," Moskalenko told the Interfax news agency, according to The Times. "We'll see how serious the authorities' intentions are."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120305/medvedev-orders-khodorkovsky-review