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Russian Oil Tycoon Guilty Of Embezzlement

A Russian judge has said jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is guilty of money laundering and embezzling property, the main charges in his second trial.

The former head of oil giant Yukos was declared guilty along with his former business partner Platon Lebedev.

The reading of the verdicts is expected to last several days with sentencing to follow.

Twenty demonstrators proclaiming Khodorkovsky’sinnocence were arrested outside the court after the guilty verdict was announced.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, is coming to the end of an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted of tax fraud.

Critics of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin – who was president at the time of the first case – accuse him of engineering all the charges against Khodorkovsky for political reasons.

Mr Putin is expected to run for president again in 2012 and critics suspect him of wanting to keep Khodorkovsky in prison until after that date.

After making millions during the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Khodorkovsky used his fortune to ensure the re-election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996 – when it had looked likely that the Communisty Party could win.

He now looks likely to spend another six years behind bars.

The original charges against him were levelled soon after Mr Putin took power, when Khodorkovsky was thought to be financing rival political parties.

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