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Updated: May 19, 2010 16:52 IST

Jailed Russian oligarch ends hunger strike

DPA
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Former Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, left, are escorted from a court room in Moscow on Tuesday. Photo: AP.
Former Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, left, are escorted from a court room in Moscow on Tuesday. Photo: AP.

Jailed Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky called off his hunger strike after just two days on Wednesday, saying he had achieved his objective.

The country’s best—known prisoner began refusing food on Monday in a bid to draw President Dmitry Medvedev’s attention to what he called the arbitrary nature of Russia’s judicial system.

The leader of the now defunct oil company Yukos, who has been in prison since 2003 for tax fraud, is on trial facing new money— laundering charges.

A Moscow court officially extended his detention for the new case by three months in mid—May.

Khodorkovsky believes the move violated a law recently signed by Mr. Medvedev that usually prohibits those charged with financial crimes from being placed in pre—trial custody.

He ended his protest after the top court promised to review his case and Mr. Medvedev said he had asked to be kept informed of developments.

“I am surprised at the candour of the Russian president and the chairman of the Russian High Court,” the news agency Interfax reported.

In a letter to the Supreme Court, seen by the German Press Agency dpa, Khodorkovsky accused the justice system of “sabotaging” Mr. Medvedev’s policies.

According to a countdown on the website khodorkovsky.ru, his first prison sentence is to end in some 500 days. But Khodorkovsky could face another 22 years in prison on the new charges.

He has repeatedly argued that the trials are politically motivated and that he will likely have to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The oligarch was first arrested in 2003 when President Vladimir Putin was in power. He was convicted in 2005.

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