Inside the Khodorkovsky trial


Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of Yukos Oil Company, and his partner, Platon Lebedev, sit in a glass cage as their embezzlement trial slowly proceeds. As Khodorkovsky and Lebedev descended the stairs, the crowd erupted into shouts of “Happy New Year!”

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are ten months into a trial for charges of money laundering and embezzlement. They are already serving eight-year sentences for fraud and tax evasion, of which they were convicted in 2005. The new charges carry sentences of up to 22 years in prison.

Few in Russia believe the proceedings to be meaningful, and the defense team has called the charges politically motivated. President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to build an independent court system, but there is no evidence of that happening so far.

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