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Court upholds suit against Khodorkovsky defense, REN-TV

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MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court upheld Friday a suit filed by penal authorities against Yukos lawyers and a television company over reports they said discredited a Moscow prison.

The Federal Penitentiary Service filed a suit December 15, 2005, against REN-TV anchorwoman Marianna Maksimovskaya, and Yevgeny Baru and Yury Shmidt, acting for jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The service demanded that the channel withdraw a report about an alleged hunger strike staged by Khodorkovsky that was broadcast in August 2005.

The lawyers said Khodorkovsky had started a hunger strike in protest against the placement of business partner Platon Lebedev in a disciplinary cell and added that Lebedev, who is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud in northern Russia, had been beaten during a search in his apartment.

The service said the report was untrue and it had not heard of the hunger strike before. It said the report discredited the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center, where both businessmen were held for more than a year during court proceedings.

Defense lawyers earlier asked the court to reject the appeal, saying the detention center should file a separate suit if it believed its rights had been violated.

"Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were not only held in Matrosskaya Tishina, but also in other detention centers," a representative for Shmidt said. "If we follow this logic, other detention centers could also be involved in the case as third parties."

The service later lodged an appeal with the Khamovniki court to add the Matrosskaya Tishina to the list of plaintiffs.

Maksimovskaya reportedly argued that Khodorkovsky's alleged hunger strike had been mentioned in the media before and said she would defend her case in a court of law.

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