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22 May, 2010 10:35

Khodorkovsky hunger strike lasts three days

This week, jailed oil-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head and key shareholder of Russian oil company Yukos, went on an indefinite hunger strike – which lasted three days.

He was protesting against a decision to prolong his stay in custody.

In a statement on his website he explained the hunger strike was to attract President Medvedev's attention to what the tycoon called improper court rulings.

Khodorkovsky is serving a sentence for fraud and tax evasion and is facing fresh accusations in court.

The news was announced on Tuesday on a website run by Khodorkovsky’s lawyers. According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, defense lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said on Tuesday that Khodorkovsky believed that "the presidential will was ignored" when, in May, judge Viktor Danilkin extended his and his business partner Platon Lebedev's custody until August 17.

Klyuvgant said his client believes the court failed to take into account amendments to the Criminal-Procedural Code, in line with which, the defense said, those accused on articles with which Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are charged should not be detained.

“The hunger strike will continue until Khodorkovsky receives confirmation that the president has been informed of the sabotage that took place,” the lawyer said, adding that this does not just “concern Khodorkovsky himself.”

On Wednesday, Khodorkovsky announced through his lawyers’ website that the had ended the hunger strike, as President Medvedev’s press secretary announced that the president had been informed about Khodorkovsky’s demands.

Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year prison term for gross tax evasion and at the same time he is on trial over charges of fraud and money laundering. On May 14, the court extended the term of Khodorkovsky’s sentence.

This is not the first hunger strike Khodorkovsky has undertaken. In August 2005 he went on hunger strike for a week, protesting against the treatment his former colleague Platon Lebedev received in prison, and in November 2008, he started a hunger strike, demanding that another former Yukos employee, Vasily Aleksanyan, be transferred to a hospital from the medical department of a pre-trial detention center. The first hunger strike lasted for a week and ended when Lebedev was released from solitary confinement. The second ended even sooner, as the man was given the required medical attention.