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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Khodorkovsky appeal is adjourned
Protesters at a rally demanding Mr Khodorkovsky's release
Mr Khodorkovsky's supporters have been demanding his release
Jailed Russian business tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's appeal hearing against his conviction for tax evasion and fraud has been adjourned until Monday.

The court session opened in confusion after Genrikh Padva, the former Yukos chief's lawyer, failed to turn up.

Mr Khodorkovsky said his lawyer was in hospital and could not attend.

Mr Khodorkovsky's legal team had tried to delay the hearing, saying the authorities had rushed it in an effort to stop him standing for parliament.

In a statement on his website two weeks ago, the former Yukos chief said he would contest a seat in a Moscow district, at a by-election later this year.

Under Russian law, Mr Khodorkovsky, who is serving a nine-year sentence, is able to stand for parliament while his appeal is pending.

'Banal' move

Truncheon-wielding riot police lined up outside Moscow City Court as the hearing opened, fearing protests by rival groups of protesters.

Mr Khodorkovsky and his jailed business partner, Platon Lebedev, had arrived at the court in prison vans.

But Mr Lebedev had instructed his lawyers not to take part in the hearing and Mr Khodorkovsky's lawyer did not attend.

MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY
1963 - Born in Moscow; parents were chemical engineers
1980s - Sets up computer and software business with fellow students at Mendeleeva Chemical Technical Institute
1987 - Founds Menatep bank
1994 - Buys fertiliser company Apatit at auction
1995 - Buys oil company Yukos for $300m, with Menatep assuming $2bn in debt
October 2003 - Arrested on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and fraud
June 2004 - Court case begins
May 2005 - Found guilty of six of seven charges and sentenced to nine years in jail

Mr Khodorkovsky, dressed in jeans and a brown suede jacket, told the court: "I cannot defend my interests in the appeal without a lawyer familiar with this case."

The move angered state prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin, who called it "a banal attempt to stretch out the court hearing".

Mr Khodorkovsky's legal team say they have yet to receive an agreed record of the original trial.

Correspondents say the jailed tycoon has become a focus for opponents of President Vladimir Putin, who believe Mr Khodorkovsky is the subject of a political vendetta for having funded opposition parties.

Mr Khodorkovsky's 11-month trial ended in May with his conviction on six of the seven charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement he had faced.

Mr Lebedev was also jailed for nine years on the same charges. A third co-defendant, Andrei Krainov, was given a five-and-a-half year suspended sentence.

Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev were also ordered to pay 17bn roubles (330m; $600m) in taxes and penalties.




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