22:17 GMT +316 October 2018
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    Court refuses to postpone sentence of ex-Yukos manager

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    MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow's City Court has upheld the refusal to postpone the start of the 6.5-year sentence of a former Yukos executive convicted on embezzlement and tax evasion charges despite her having two minor children to care for, her lawyer said Wednesday.

    On October 2, the Simonovsky Court rejected a request from Svetlana Bakhmina's defense lawyers, who asked that the former deputy head of the legal department at the embattled oil company's Yukos Moskva unit be allowed to serve her six-and-a-half-year prison term after her younger child, now aged five, turns 14.

    Bakhmina, charged with failing to pay 606,000 rubles ($22,600) in taxes in 2001-2002 and of diverting 8 billion rubles' worth ($298.73 million) of property from Yukos subsidiary Tomskneft in the late 1990s, has maintained her innocence throughout the litigation process.

    "I am innocent, but a question of even greater importance to me is when I will be able to see my children again," Bakhmina said. "I think the time I have spent at a detention center has already covered what can be qualified as guilt."

    Lawyer Olga Kozyreva said earlier, "The court said in its ruling that the postponement is a relief from punishment but we asked to postpone the sentence by nine years."

    She said the limitation period is ten years.

    The judge of the Simonovsky Court said Bakhmina's well-off relatives are capable of taking care of her children.

    Bakhmina, arrested in December 2004, was sent in late October 2006 to serve her sentence in a women's penal colony in the Central Russian republic of Mordovia.

    Legal proceedings launched against Yukos in 2003, seen by many as having been politically motivated, resulted in the conviction of Bakhmina and other executives and shareholders of Russia's once largest oil producer, including ex-CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

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