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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khodorkovsky Vows to Battle Bureaucracy

Mikhail Khodorkovsky promised his supporters Thursday that the fight against a "self-serving bureaucracy" was just beginning.

In a strongly worded statement from his Siberian prison -- phrased much like an election campaign manifesto -- Khodorkovsky, 42, addressed his allies as "heroes" and tapped popular themes, calling for the Army and health service to be built anew.

Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia's richest man, arrived nearly two weeks ago at a prison near Krasnokamensk, the Siberian town located six time zones away from Moscow and near the Chinese border

"They hope that Khodorkovsky will soon be forgotten," he said in the statement released by his defense lawyers. "They are trying to convince you, friends, that the fight is over. That you must resign yourselves to domination by a self-serving bureaucracy in Russia. This is not true. The fight is only just beginning."

Khodorkovsky also struck an overtly populist note, warning that Russia could lose its vast Siberian and Far Eastern territories to China.

Yury Korgunyuk, an analyst with the Indem anti-corruption think tank, said that Khodorkovsky's political aims and statements were largely irrelevant. He said even if Khodorkovsky was to be released early enough to compete in the next presidential election, his bid would be doomed given the Kremlin's firm grip on regional legislatures and national television.

"There is no point talking about political goals in the current climate," Korgunyuk said.

He said Khodorkovsky was trying to make sure the public did not forget about him in the distant Siberian prison, which might leave him dangerously exposed in Russia's infamously brutal penal system.

"It's a fight for survival. Not political survival, but physical survival," Kor-gunyuk said.

Lawyers have also expressed concerns for his health after it emerged that his prison is just 15 kilometers from giant uranium mines. But regional officials rebuffed suggestions that Khodorkovsky could be at risk, whether from radioactive contamination or the harsh winters, when temperatures regularly drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius.