Court Sets Khodorkovsky Parole Hearing

A Chita court has set Aug. 21 for an early-release appeal hearing for jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a spokeswoman for the court said Monday.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was sentenced in 2005 to eight years in prison for tax evasion and fraud. The fate of Khodorkovsky's appeal for release, which follows new charges of embezzlement and money laundering, is seen as a test of President Dmitry Medvedev's commitment to establishing a "rule of law."

In June, Medvedev told reporters in Germany that "the procedures for a pardon are open to any and all citizens convicted of one or another crime, including Khodorkovsky."

In his appeal for early release, Khodorkovsky maintained his innocence and accused investigators of manipulating evidence in his case.

"For my own part let me add: They are falsifying the evidence, and all this is encouraged by the court's failure to intervene," he wrote in an appeal posted July 16 on his web site.

New charges filed on July 1 accused Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev of "theft through embezzlement and the legalization of the money acquired as a result of a large-scale crime."