A Russian appeals court on Tuesday delayed a hearing into the case of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is hoping to avoid a conviction that could leave him in a Siberian prison through 2017.
The judge at the Moscow City Court announced the one-week delay after Khodorkovsky’s former business partner and co-defendant Platon Lebedev said he had submitted additional objections to be considered in the appeal.
Khodorkovsky’s lawyers and supporters saw a darker game, linking the delay to the fact that President Dmitry Medvedev is due to hold his first (yes, first) major press conference in Moscow tomorrow.
More than 100 people – including lawyers, family, journalists and supporters of the former Yukos CEO – packed a tiny overheated courtroom at the labyrinthine Moscow City Court to hear what was meant to be the start of Khodorkovsky’s appeals process. The trial has been marked by inexplicable delays as well as what his lawyers call procedural violations. Yet the trial (both Khodorkovsky’s first on fraud and tax evasion and the latest on money laundering and embezzlement) is widely accepted as politically motivated and subject to a twisted application of Russia’s notoriously corrupt justice system.
The appeals hearing is now due to be held May 24.