Breaking News: Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Hunger Strike in Russia



    TORONTO, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of
Yukos oil, has commenced a hunger strike in protest against the treatment of
jailed former colleague and Yukos general counsel and vice president Vasily
Alexanian.
    Robert Amsterdam, Toronto based lawyer for Mr. Khodorkovsky, will be
addressing the Economic Club of Toronto on January 31st at the National Club,
303 Bay Street, Toronto at 11:45am. There will be a Media Scrum immediately
following the speech, at approximately 1:30pm. Mr. Amsterdam will be available
to speak to Khodorkovsky's hunger strike.
    Mikhail Khodorkovsky's company was illegally seized by the state and he
is now a political prisoner languishing in a Siberian jail.

    Background

    Toronto, January 30, 2008 - Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head
of Yukos oil, has commenced a hunger strike in protest against the treatment
of jailed former colleague and Yukos general counsel and vice president Vasily
Alexanian.
    In a letter to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, published on his
web site on Wednesday and reported by Interfax, Mr. Khodorkovsky declares his
support for Mr. Alexanian following reports that Mr. Alexanian has been
offered medical assistance if he testifies against him: "I am facing an
impossible moral choice: admit to crimes I haven't committed and save the life
of a man, but destroy the fate of innocents who will be charged as my
accomplices."
    "I have to abandon the legal framework and inform you that I'm beginning
a hunger strike," Mr. Khodorkovsky continues in the letter. "I hope very much
that the agency you head will make a decision that provides Vasily Alexanian
with guarantees of life and medical care."
    Mr. Alexanian's condition became life threatening in October 2007
following his diagnosis a year earlier with a fatal illness that required
urgent chemotherapy treatment. Since then his physical condition has
deteriorated significantly, extending to the development of a series of other
illnesses, including the near total deterioration of his sight.
    "For some years it has become obvious that the Russian procuracy is
conducting a campaign of terror and lawlessness against the Russian people.
These deplorable actions have been documented by Amnesty and the Council of
Europe. The treatment of Mr. Alexanian, who has been denied medical treatment
solely for the purpose of extracting a false confession, returns the Russian
procuracy to its role in a different chapter of Russian history," stated
Robert Amsterdam, international legal counsel to Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
    "This hunger strike should draw attention to the outrageous conduct of
senior members of the Russian Federation who should be held personally
responsible for these crimes," Robert Amsterdam continued.

    Note to Editors:

    Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky was arrested on 25 October, 2003 and, in direct
violation of the Russian Criminal Procedural Code, placed in a detention
facility in Moscow without court authorization.
    Following a lengthy investigation, the Khodorkovsky trial started in June
2004. In late May 2005 the court found Khodorkovsky guilty on all charges,
following a trial in which most of the evidence put forward by the defense was
thrown out of court. Both Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev
were sentenced to 9 years in a Siberian labour camp. After Moscow court
hearings on the appeal of Mikhail Khodorkovsky on September 22 of the same
year, Khodorkovsky's and Lebedev's prison sentences were reduced to eight
years. In December 2006 they were moved to a pre-trial detention centre in
Chita, where they remain facing new charges.
    The Yukos case is widely viewed as a travesty of justice. Leading
politicians, human rights groups and activists have commented on the multiple
human rights abuses that Khodorkovsky has suffered during his arrest, trial
and imprisonment.




For further information:

For further information: or to set up an interview, please contact: Ian
Connerty, Freeman Mandel Milne Inc., Tel: (416) 985-9855, Email:
ian@freeman-mandel.com

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