New charges to be brought against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev

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MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - New charges will be brought against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, above all charges of "legalization of criminal incomes that run into billions of rubles," Natalia Vishnyakova told journalists Tuesday.

The official spokeswoman of the Office of the Prosecutor General said the charges would be presented soon. When asked when this may happen and what punishment can be meted out to the ex-Yukos head and leader of Menatep, she said: "The charges will be presented soon and their essence will be formulated in the arraignment."

"We have had enough of the tales about the transparency and law-abidance of Yukos," Vishnyakova said. "I will repeat what I have said more than enough: This is a banal case of fraud and tax avoidance."

"This is a grave crime and the culprits received fair punishment for it," said the spokeswoman.

"We categorically say that there is no political lining in this case. Those who claim that the crimes have not been proved do not know exactly what Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev did and what proof we have in the case," Vishnyakova stressed.

She pointed out that the two men were guilty of proven crime. "They embezzled astronomical sums, shamelessly robbing the state and the people."

Vishnyakova noted that the prosecution was satisfied with the verdict and regarded it as just and corresponding to the circumstances and gravity of the crimes.

On Tuesday the Meshchansky Court of Moscow sentenced ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and head of Menatep Platon Lebedev to nine years in general security prison. Andrei Krainov, ex-general director of Volna, was given a five-year suspended sentence.

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