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Many others could have indicted on Yukos charges

MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - There is the widespread belief among politicians that quite a number of other businessmen could have faced the charges brought up against the former Yukos CEO. Leader of the Russian Communist party Gennady Zyuganov described the nine-year sentence to Khodorkovsky and his business associate Platon Lebedev as "a public whipping." "We witnessed an ordinary case of flogging. Though the entire period of privatization in this country faced disastrous law violations, a scapegoat, with whom above all someone wants to square accounts, was found," Zyuganov told journalists on Tuesday. "Our lawyers say that everything in terms of law and procedure that can be violated was violated," said the Communist leader. According to him, the Communist party would not defend the former Yukos CEO because "Khodorkovsky has got all required legal aid." Once the trial is over, capital drain is inevitable, he added.

Ivan Melnikov, a member of the Communist faction in the State Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) said it was not the term Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to that mattered above all. The sentence showed that law is administered discriminately - there are more than two oligarchs in this country, he added.

Dealing with prospects for this case, Melnikov doubted any likelihood of the case's revision in the near future but did not rule out such a development after the completion of all election processes, including State Duma elections.

Rodina (Motherland) faction leader Dmitry Rogozin expected the term to be shorter, five-six years. "The approach is wrong because most of the oligarchs can be indicted on the same charges," he said. Law-enforcement agencies should take care not only of the official tycoons but above all of people in government who are covering them up, he added.

The Union of Right Forces (SPS) said the verdict was "unfair". "They were convicted on charges of tax and privatization law breach which is the case with thousands of businessmen across Russia," the SPS presidium said.

State Duma Vice Speaker Vladimir Pekhtin (pro-presidential United Russia faction) said the verdict was quite fair and not politically motivated. "The evidence produced after a long and thorough investigation underlies the court's judgment that found Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty on six charges," Pekhtin said.

"The Yukos case is evidence of Russia's living in the legal environment," he added.

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