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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jailed Yukos Boss on 'New Level of Spiritual Freedom'

The jailed former CEO of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, believes that two years in prison and the Kremlin's purging of most of his assets have made him spiritually free, he was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Khodorkovsky, who was sentenced to nine years in May for fraud after what he said was a campaign of persecution by the Kremlin, has become something of an icon for Russian liberals, who think he can galvanize opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

"Having lost my property and external freedom, I have entered an entirely new level of spiritual freedom, become independent from everything apart from my conscience and beliefs," he told nationalist Zavtra newspaper. "I think that my life has only just started."

The interview is due to be officially published in Zavtra on Tuesday. The remarks were made available on Saturday by the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Analysts say the Kremlin moved against Khodorkovsky, who has been in jail since October 2003, to neutralize him as a political threat.

"I was largely naive, and that's why I've been victimized," said Khodorkovsky, who has written a number of articles from his jail cell.

"I don't regret what has happened. Every day I spend behind bars is a political act in itself," he said in the interview.

Khodorkovsky said that he believed it was greed, not politics, that was the main driving force behind the Kremlin's campaign against him.

"I am convinced that I was jailed not because of politics but because [they wanted] to take Yukos away. Politics was just an excuse," he said. "I had underestimated how far [Putin's closest men] ... were prepared to go in their battle for somebody else's money."