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Former Yukos vice president dies

Former Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan, who once legally represented Mikhail Khodorkovsky, died on Monday. The 39-year-old Aleksanyan had long been suffering from AIDS and cancer.

In 2006 Aleksanyan was arrested together with other Yukos top managers and accused of embezzling about $330 million from former Yukos production unit Tomskneft, and shares worth $493 million from other oil companies, as well as money laundering.

The businessman spent two-and-a-half years in custody, during which time his lawyers repeatedly asked for him to be let out on bail due to his deteriorating medical condition. Khodorkovsky, who was already in prison at the time, went on a hunger strike to support his former employee.

Aleksanyan was finally released on bail in 2008 and the trial continued on and off till 2010, when Moscow court closed his case because the statute of limitations has expired.

The Yukos case is one of the best-known trials in Russia in recent years. Russian authorities accused Yukos management of various economic crimes, including money laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement. The head of the oil giant, Khodorkovsky, and his associate Platon Lebedev, who were jailed in 2005, are due to be released in 2016.