Khodorkovsky gets presidential rating

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MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - Sociologists at the Levada Center have labeled former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky "a comparable figure of the supporting class" after a 9-year sentence was handed down to him by the Meshchansky court and said a recent poll indicated that 8.3% of Russians could cast their votes for him in a presidential election, Izvestia, a daily, reported.

This figure is comparative to that of other politicians. Of those polled, 10% said they would vote for Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and nearly as many might support KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov. But none of the candidates has collected more than 10% of the vote so far.

Sociologists discourage illusions about Khodorkovsky's rating, as the billionaire is unlikely to repeat Boris Yeltsin's jump from 4% to victory in the 1996 election.

A comparison between the ratings of Khodorkovsky and other politicians is only relative, since few people imagine a real situation in which they would vote for the dethroned oligarch, said Professor Yuri Levada of the Levada Center. The 8.3% protest the authorities' treatment of him.

Another argument in favor of skeptics was cited by the Public Opinion Fund (FOM), which started gauging the people's attitude towards Khodorkovsky before his arrest, with little change since then, FOM analyst Grigory Kertman said. According to the latest data, 8% of people think well of Khodorkovsky, while 25% don't.

The National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) confirmed that most Russians see Khodorkovsky in a negative light. Only 5%, down 3% from August 2004, believe that "the charges against Khodorkovsky are far-fetched and he was found guilty only because he displeased current authorities." Four percent are convinced that there was nothing to try him for, though 26% think that he should have been sentenced to 10 years, and 46% say he broke the law.

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