Khodorkovsky Puts Hopes in Medvedev

In his first full face-to-face interview in more than four years, former Yukos chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky said it would be "so difficult" for Dmitry Medvedev to end the practice of selective prosecution of the Kremlin's political enemies.

"Tradition, and the state of people's minds, and the lack of forces able to [support] any movement toward the rule of law, everything is against him," Khodorkovsky told the Financial Times in an interview published Thursday. "So ... may God grant him the strength to do it. All we can do is hope."

Khodorkovsky gave the interview from a courtroom cage in Chita, where he is serving out an eight-year prison sentence on fraud and tax-evasion charges. The legal onslaught against Khodorkovsky, once the country's richest person, and the breakup of Yukos was widely seen as revenge for his apparent political ambitions and his refusal to toe the Kremlin line.

Since his arrest in October 2003, Khodorkovsky has written occasional articles for the press, but this has been his first face-to-face interview since then.

Khodorkovsky answered questions during a 40-minute break in a hearing related to new fraud charges being brought against him, the Financial Times reported.