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Russia's Khodorkovsky wins more access to lawyers

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, March 2 (Reuters) Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky won a small victory today when a Moscow court ruled he should be allowed to see his lawyers during working hours at his Siberian prison.

Until now Khodorkovsky, serving an eight year sentence for fraud and tax evasion, could only see his lawyers in his spare time, which they said was a violation of his rights to proper access to legal advice.

''This means that from the moment the court's decision comes into legal force, Mikhail Khodorkovsky can work with his lawyers during the day and not pack up ready-made goods in the sewing department,'' said a statement on his website.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, says the charges against him were part of a Kremlin scheme to seize control of oil major YUKOS , which he built up during the chaotic 1990s. Russian prosecutors say he is a common criminal.

''We negotiate the distance from Moscow to Chita not to enjoy being in Khodorkovsky's presence, but to work,'' his lawyer Yuri Shmidt told the Supreme Court, according to the statement on www.khodorkovsky.ru.

Khodorkovsky's prison is in the Siberian Chita region, near the border with China and Mongolia and some 6,000 km from his native Moscow.

Khodorkovsky's business associate and co-defendant Platon Lebedev, who is serving the same sentence, is trying to appeal his transfer to a prison in the Arctic Yamalo-Nenets region.

Reuters OM BS1932

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