. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos Tycoons Appeal to Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Monday said it had agreed to consider the complaints of jailed businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, but that no action would be taken immediately.

"The decision on admissibility will not be taken in the immediate future," court spokesman Roderick Liddell said by telephone from France.

Robert Amsterdam, a Canadian lawyer representing Khodorkovsky, told the Financial Times that his client decided to appeal to Europe's top human rights court after a Moscow judge extended his pretrial detention for a third time Friday.

Khodorkovsky and fellow billionaire Lebedev have been held in Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina jail for several months on charges of tax evasion and fraud worth more than $1 billion. The alleged crimes, which both men have denied, occurred while Khodorkovsky was the chief executive of Yukos and Lebedev was head of Yukos' parent company Group Menatep.

The Strasbourg appeal also includes the case of Alexander Pichugin, the former Yukos security chief who was arrested last summer for his alleged role in several murders.

The court, which has a backlog of nearly 40,000 cases, said it may take up to two years before it decides whether or not to officially hear the Yukos cases. However, it said it may decide on interim measures in Lebedev's case within the week if it confirms his lawyers' claim that he is suffering from ill health.

"The court is empowered to take interim measures to indicate [to Russian authorities], for example, that the person in question needs to receive proper medical treatment, but this will not impact the case's admissibility," Liddell said.

Lebedev's lawyers have asked the court to secure his immediate release on health grounds. Amsterdam said Lebedev is suffering from high blood pressure that could make him blind if he is not allowed an independent medical examination, which Russian authorities have so far refused.

Some 14,000 Russians have applied to the court since 1998, when Moscow joined the European Convention on Human Rights. Of those, the court has ruled on just eight, all of which went against the Russian government.