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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 14:33 GMT
Court denies Russia tycoon bail
Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail
Mikhail Khodorkovsky addressed the court via video-link from prison
A Moscow court has rejected an appeal from jailed Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to be released from prison and placed under house arrest.

In a video-link to the courtroom, the former Yukos boss had said he would not hide from any investigation into his business dealings if released.

He is in detention awaiting trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Prosecutors argued that if allowed to leave jail he could flee or try to influence the criminal investigation.

Mr Khodorkovsky's supporters say the Kremlin is orchestrating a campaign against him because of his political ambitions.

His lawyers argued that the decision to keep him in jail was excessive, since he is accused of economic crimes.

Further appeal

Mr Khodorkovsky will now remain behind bars during and after the 14 March presidential elections, which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

It was the same court that dismissed, on 23 December, requests for Mr Khodorkovsky to be released on bail.

Maybe we will go directly to Strasbourg, without going through the Supreme Court
Lawyer Anton Drel
After Thursday's decision, his lawyers said they would appeal either to Russia's Supreme Court, to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or both.

"Maybe we will go directly to Strasbourg, without going through the Supreme Court," said lawyer, Anton Drel.

"But that will have to be decided by Khodorkovsky himself."

Prosecutors have been investigating Yukos and its main shareholders since June in what many observers believe is a response to Mr Khodorkovsky's financing of opposition parties before parliamentary elections held on 7 December.

He had also been talked of as a possible future presidential candidate.

Mr Khodorkovsky himself was arrested at gunpoint on October 25.

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