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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos Cited for Allowing 'Unsystematic' Rabbit Sex

The oil giant Yukos, already battered by the jailing of its head amid a politically tinged probe, also faces allegations of letting rabbits mate without supervision and of mistreating pigs, news reports said Thursday.

Some television news shows made much of the finding by the agricultural authority of the autonomous republic of Sakha that a farm belonging to a Yukos-affiliated company was mistreating animals, placing the story at the top of newscasts accompanied with footage of piglets and bunnies.

The attention underlined the intense scrutiny surrounding Yukos since the Oct. 25 arrest of former CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky by special forces at a Siberian airport. Khodorkovsky was then jailed on charges of fraud and tax evasion and he resigned his post on Monday.

The animal abuse allegations against Yukos surfaced in an inspection of a farm belonging to its subsidiary Sakhaneftegaz, news reports said. Authorities found that male and female rabbits were kept together and "couplings take place unsystematically, and no zoological-technological monitoring records are kept," Interfax said. Nursing sows are also kept in common stalls, which is against regulations, the report said.

"The unsystematic coupling of buck rabbits at a farm of a [Yukos] affiliate is an outrage, indeed," Yukos spokesman Alexander Shadrin told Interfax.

"Nevertheless, I do not rule out that among the numerous accusations against Yukos a new one can be added -- cruelty to animals planned and committed by an organized group," Shadrin said.

In a statement on NTV television, Shadrin, appearing somber, said the company takes the complaint seriously. "Those responsible will definitely be punished and the irregularities will be rectified," he said. "We express the hope that to the numerous charges filed against the Yukos company ... cruelty to animals will not be added."

(AP, MT)