Ex-Yukos Chief Faces Charges

Prosecutors brought new charges against jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Monday, his legal team said.

But his lawyers said that after studying the 145 pages of dense text for several hours, they failed to establish what was new about the charges. "There is nothing new here. They're trying to make a procedural move to buy more time," lawyer Robert Amsterdam said by telephone.

Khodorkovsky's defense team added in a statement: "The defense can find no explanation other than the lack of certainty among the prosecutors and — taking into account changes that have happened at the top of the government — its desire to play for time, in the hope of receiving new instructions and confirmation of support from the top."

Prosecutors have been preparing to try Khodorkovsky on a new set of charges, for money laundering, for more than a year. President Dmitry Medvedev has yet to give any indication of his views on the Khodorkovsky case.

Last week, Khodorkovsky's lawyers advised him to apply for early release, which he became eligible for in October after serving half of his eight-year prison term on fraud and tax evasion charges.

Asked whether Monday's charges might be connected to the talk of early release, Amsterdam said, "It is impossible to get into the head of a procuracy that is completely politicized."

Prosecutors gave no immediate comment.

MT, Reuters