Interesting that Reuters reports without analysis Khodorkovsky's lawyers view that the charges are absurd. Of course there are no doubt political elements to the charges and many other pro-Putin oligarchs are probably guilty of similar acts but there was and is undeniable corruption within the upper echelons of Russian industry. Of course there is also corruption and profiteering in many of the US Iraq contractors but zilch is done about that.
MOSCOW, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Russian prosecutors on Monday brought money laundering charges against oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is already serving a prison term for fraud and tax evasion, his lawyer said.
Khodorkovsky, founder of the YUKOS (YUKO.MM: Quote, Profile , Research) oil major, and his associate Platon Lebedev were each sentenced in 2005 to eight years in prison in a trial seen by many as a Kremlin campaign to punish the tycoon for his political ambitions.
"One thing all lawyers agree on is that the new charges are absurd," Khodorkovsky's lawyer Karina Moskalenko said by telephone. "They are crazy from start to end."
Earlier on Monday, Lebedev was charged with similar offences. If proved in court, money laundering is punishable in Russia by up to 10 years in prison, some of which could be added to Khodorkovsky's and Lebedev's terms.
An extended term would upset the two men's hopes for an early release later this year, ahead of a 2008 presidential election when a successor to President Vladimir Putin will be elected. YUKOS, once Russia's biggest and most profitable oil company, had been driven to bankruptcy by back-tax claims. The firm's receiver last month said that Yukos owes its creditors 667.8 billion roubles ($25.33 billion) up from the previously announced 492 billion roubles.
"The Prosecutor-General's office views as criminal practically all YUKOS activities, its creation, oil extraction and sales," Lebedev's lawyer Konstantin Rivkin said commenting on the new charges.
"Every step, every sneeze of theirs ... has been found to be criminal."
Rivkin said the charges against Lebedev, similar to ones filed against Khodorkovsky, were contained in a 148-page document.
It was officially announced to the two in the city of Chita, close to the Chinese border, where they are being