It is judgement day for oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once Russia’s richest man, he is facing up to 10 years in jail. Accused of fraud and tax evasion, the founder of oil group Yukos is on trial alongside former colleague Platon Lebedev. Both men protest their innocence. Once Russia’s flagship oil firm, Yukos has been crushed under the weight of a multi-billion euro back-tax bill.
The company says its troubles are the result of a campaign orchestrated by the Kremlin to punish Khodorkovsky for political activities. He had begun donating money to opposition parties prior to his arrest. Now said to be facing fresh charges, it is unlikely that today’s verdict will mean the end of his legal woes. Yukos meanwhile has just lost a court action against state oil firm Rosneft, meaning the Kremlin has moved one step closer to seizing what is left of the company’s assets.