Khodorkovsky Parole Appeal Denied

APFormer Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky sitting in the defendant's cage in the Chita regional court on Thursday.
Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky lost an appeal Thursday for early release from prison.

Lawyers for Khodorkovsky, who is serving an eight-year jail term for tax evasion and fraud, said the decision shows that President Dmitry Medvedev's promises to reform the legal system have had little effect.

The Chita regional court rejected an appeal by Khodorkovsky's lawyers against a decision in August by a lower court to refuse parole, RIA-Novosti reported. Khodorkovsky is entitled to ask for early release because he has served more than half his sentence, but in August the court said he had not shown sufficient willingness to reform.

Last week he was placed in solitary confinement for 12 days for granting an interview with the Russian edition of Esquire magazine, which is published by Independent Media Sanoma Magazines, the parent company of The Moscow Times.

Khodorkovsky's lawyer Vadim Klyuvgand said at the time that the purported infraction would be used as an excuse not to release the businessman early, given Thursday's parole hearing.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, says he is the victim of corrupt officials under former President Vladimir Putin who wanted to carve up his business empire and who feared his political ambitions.

His arrest in 2003 by Federal Security Service officers at a Siberian airport sent shockwaves through the business community, who feared that the Kremlin would try to regain control of key oil production assets sold off in the 1990s.

Reuters, MT