Lawyer says Khodorkovsky ‘readied’ for transfer to Siberian colony

Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been moved to a regular block inside Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison after spending weeks in a special block while he was on trial.

A lawyer for the former head of the disbanded oil giant Yukos said this may be a sign that Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev would soon be transferred to a Siberian penal colony, possibly the one where the two men served out their first jail sentences for tax evasion and fraud.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were convicted of stealing millions of tons of oil from Yukos and laundering the proceeds in a December trial widely condemned by Western governments and human rights groups.

A Moscow court upheld the two men’s second conviction last month after they appealed and cut their sentences by one year. The two men are now not eligible for release until 2016.

Amnesty International subsequently recognized Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as “prisoners of conscience.”

Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, says the charges against him are revenge for his funding of opposition parties during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, a claim denied by the government.

The European Court of Human Rights said last week the ex-Yukos bosses’ first trial was not politically motivated but said there were numerous violations of Khodorkovsky’s conditions of detention after his arrest in October 2003.

MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

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