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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Asks Authorities Why Khodorkovsky Sent to Chita

A Moscow court has ordered prison authorities to explain why Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sent to serve eight years for tax evasion and fraud in a prison camp six time zones from Moscow, his lawyer said Thursday.

By law, convicts must serve time in the town or region where they are registered or reside. In the event there is no room, they serve their time in an adjacent region.

Lawyer Yury Shmidt said he had presented documents to the Zamoskvoretsky District Court demonstrating a "mass of capacity" in penitentiaries between Moscow and Krasnokamensk, near the Chinese border, where Khodorkovsky is jailed.

Shmidt also said a court in Krasnokamensk had ruled that Khodorkovsky did not violate prison procedure after authorities said he had abandoned the room where he works sewing overalls and uniforms.

Any violations can hinder appeals for early release, as well as reduce the number of visits prisoners are allowed to receive.

Shmidt welcomed the decision against a complaint he said prison authorities had "pulled out of the air."

"As far as I understand, he had turned off his sewing machine, which was broken, and had gone to look for the technician," Shmidt said.

Following the sewing machine incident in January, Khodorkovsky was transferred to solitary confinement for five days for receiving Justice Ministry documents on inmates' rights. His lawyers argue that he was entitled to receive the documents and are challenging the decision in court.

Khodorkovsky's summer sentencing came at the climax of a case that shook faith in property rights and the rule of law. Observers have said the jailing of Russia's once-richest man was punishment for his political and business aspirations.