Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has appeared back in court on new charges of fraud and money laundering.
The trial is being closely watched to see if President Medvedev’s promises of reform will favour the former Yukos boss who fell foul of the Kremlin and was imprisoned for tax evasion. It is first time Khodorkovsky has appeared in public in the capital since 2005. Although he smiled and joked with ex-business partner Platon Lebedev, he seemed considerably aged by his detention in Siberia. Outside the Moscow court, police arrested several of his supporters for public order offences. Nonetheless, other passers-by condemned the process. “He could have done a lot for the country but he’s in jail. Such things only happen under the Putin regime. Putin is taking revenge, he’s a spiteful person,” said one woman. Khodorkovsky says he is the victim of corrupt officials who feared his political ambitions and wanted to carve up his YUKOS business empire, which produced more oil than OPEC member Qatar. Prosecutors say he helped embezzle some 20 billion euros and laundered ten billion more, charges that could keep him in jail for 22 years more if found guilty.