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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Medvedev drops 'pardon' for Khodorkovsky hint

RIA Novosti

20:20 02/02/2011 MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has asked the "legal expert community" to look into the case of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, suggesting their findings could be used as grounds for an appeal or a pardon.

"I would appreciate it if the expert community endeavored to make a legal analysis of the relevant decisions," he said, referring to the Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and other high-profile cases.

"That would be of some value because any person who wishes to understand what's what, needs to rely on expert opinion," Medvedev told a meeting of the presidential civil society institutions and human rights council, the verbatim record of which was published on the Kremlin's official website Wednesday.

However, he refused to comment on the case further.

"I am not in a position to make any comments here," he said.

"The appeals procedures, as well as the pardon procedure, can be used here - that is perfectly obvious, but this is a separate subject," Medvedev said.

On New Year's Eve, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were sentenced to another six years in jail after being found guilty of stealing millions of tons of oil from their now defunct company Yukos in a trial broadly viewed as political revenge from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The two men are expected to remain in jail until 2017.

Medvedev offered no indication as to whether he had a problem with the new verdict or if there was a chance Khodorkovsky, who is widely expected to face a third set of charges, could be released early.

However, in order for Khodorkovsky to be pardoned, he would have to ask for a presidential amnesty, something he has said he will never do, as he refuses to recognize his guilt.

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