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Russian oil tycoon Khodorkovsky sentenced to six more years

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Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

(Read caption) Mikhail Khodorkovsky (l.) and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev smile from behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday. On Thursday, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to six more years in a trial that his followers condemned as politically tinged.

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Already-imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a businessman who has long been at odds with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was sentenced to another six years in prison on Thursday.

Mr. Khodorovsky was found guilty earlier this week of embezzling $27 billion from Yukos, the oil company he built with his business partner, Platon Lebedev. The two have already spent seven years in jail after receiving an eight-year sentence on charges of tax evasion and fraud. With the new sentence, they will spend 14 years total in jail.

The trial and sentencing have been widely criticized for being driven by politics rather than a desire for justice – not because Khodorkovsky is not guilty, but because he and his partner are not the only prominent Russian businessmen who have a history of suspected shady financial dealings. International response has been strong and condemning, the Monitor reported.

The politically-tinged case against the men has drawn international ire, perhaps nowhere more so than from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, [who] issued a statement yesterday saying the latest conviction brings up "serious questions about selective prosecution – and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations." Germany called the conviction a setback for Russian democracy.

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