The Kremlin ordered the arrest of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky because he had angered Vladimir Putin by funding opposition parties, Putin’s former prime minister said on Monday in court.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, was arrested in 2003 and his business empire was then carved up and sold, mostly to state-controlled companies.
Mikhail Kasyanov, who became a vociferous Kremlin critic after serving as Putin’s prime minister from 2000 to 2004, said at a court hearing that Putin had told him YUKOS owner Khordorkovky and long-term business partner Platon Lebedev were arrested for bankrolling the Communist party.
“Both (YUKOS) co-owners were arrested on politically motivated grounds,” Kasyanov told the court. Russian officials have always denied any political motivation for the arrests.
(Reporting by Aydar Buribayev, writing by Dmitry Solovyov, editing by Guy Faulconbridge)