Investigators offered former Yukos oil company Executive Vice President Vasily Aleksanyan medical treatment in exchange for testimony against his bosses, ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said on Thursday.
Aleksanyan, 39, died in Moscow on Monday of AIDS-caused complications. He was arrested in 2006 on charges of money-laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement as part of the Yukos case, and spent over two years in jail despite having been diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis.
“He [Aleksanyan] was offered a bargain: Testify against Yukos bosses and we will release you for medical treatment. You know you need it!” Khodorkovsky said in a commentary published by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
According to the former Yukos head, Aleksanyan refused to accept the deal and “during that two years in jail his illness progressed to the final stages.”
Aleksanyan was transferred from the infamous Matrosskaya Tishina prison to a cancer treatment clinic in February 2008 after his heath deteriorated and he went nearly blind. His guilt has never been proven and his criminal case was closed in 2010.
“Only when it was too late and under pressure from human rights activists, Vasya [Aleksanyan] was transferred to a hospital where he - a patient who received chemotherapy from cancer - was kept handcuffed to a bed,” Khodorkovsky said.
Legal proceedings launched against the now defunct oil company Yukos in 2003, seen by some critics as politically motivated, resulted in the conviction of many executives and shareholders, including founder and CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on tax evasion charges and sentenced to eight years in 2005. His sentence was extended in a second trial on separate charges earlier this year and he is now due for release in 2016.
Lawyers for Yukos, which once pumped out more oil than both Libya and Qatar, had said that the company was hounded out of business after its owner Khodorkovsky - then Russia's richest man - began funding the Russian opposition. The Kremlin has consistently denied the allegation.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September 2011 that the Russian authorities had violated the Yukos' rights , but rejected claims that the breakup of the oil giant was politically motivated.