New Charges Against Khodorkovsky

Prosecutors said Monday that new embezzlement and grand theft charges have been filed against oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence on charges that his defenders say are politically motivated.

The latest charges are another signal that authorities are determined to keep Khodorkovsky — once Russia's wealthiest man — behind bars well beyond the end of his first sentence in 2011.

The Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement that Khodorkovsky schemed with a group of investors at his company Yukos to bilk the Eastern Oil Company of 3.6 billion rubles ($102 million) and billions of more rubles from other companies.

Similar new charges also were being filed against Khodorkovsky's business associate Platon Lebedev, who is also serving an eight-year prison term.

Defense lawyers warned last year that new charges were being prepared.

Yury Schmidt, one of Khodorkovsky's defense lawyers, said the new charges take up some 4,000 pages. Though it would take time to go through the material, he said the charges were fully anticipated.

"There's nothing new in any of this," Schmidt said. "From the very first sentence, it appears to be nothing but nonsense."

Khodorkovsky built Yukos into Russia's largest oil company. But after his arrest, the company was broken up and its main assets were sold to state-controlled Rosneft.