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Russian oil tycoon appeals sentence

Associated Press / January 1, 2011

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MOSCOW — A lawyer for jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky appealed yesterday his sentence of six more years in prison, a punishment that is seen as payback for challenging Vladimir Putin’s power and has been widely condemned in the West.

The lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, said Khodorkovsky’s conviction on charges of stealing almost $30 billion worth of oil from his company and laundering the proceeds was marred by procedural violations.

Khodorkovsky’s business partner received the same sentence; his lawyer also appealed,

The ruling drew condemnation from US and European governments, who called it evidence of the use of Russia’s judicial system for political ends.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, dismissed the Western criticism yesterday.

“Russian courts are independent from both Russian and foreign governments,’’ he said.

However, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the human rights council in Russia, said it would probably form a panel to study the verdict.

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