Yukos-backed NGO says it will appeal upheld account freeze

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MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - Open Russia, a nongovernmental organization founded by jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Wednesday it would appeal a Moscow City Court decision to uphold an order to freeze its bank accounts.

Moscow City Court Wednesday rejected an appeal by the NGO against a Basmanny Court injunction of March 16 to freeze Open Russia's accounts, including $5.5 million in National Trust Bank, following a request from the Prosecutor General's Office.

Open Russia said it would appeal the decision in Russia's Constitutional Court and in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Investigators said funds in the accounts were of illegal origin and belonged to suspects in criminal cases related to Khodorkovsky - the ex-boss of embattled oil company Yukos - and his business partner and former Group Menatep director, Platon Lebedev. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are both serving eight-year prison terms for money laundering and tax evasion.

Open Russia said its funds were absolutely legal and were earmarked for educational, cultural and charity projects. It said the court had violated its constitutionally guaranteed right to freely own, use and dispose of its property.

The NGO said it "could not bear responsibility for Khodorkovsky," since he had never run the organization and had no rights to dispose of its property as merely the formal chairman of the board that managed Open Russia collectively.

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