[JURIST] A judge for the Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow on Thursday ordered former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] to be transferred to the Russian capital to face new charges [JURIST report] including embezzlement and theft, according to court officials. Both Khodorkovsky and his former partner Platon Lebedev [defense website] are to be transferred from the Siberian region of Chita, where both men have been serving prison sentences based on 2005 convictions [JURIST report] for fraud and tax evasion. A preliminary hearing on the charges is set [Moscow Times report] for March 3 at the Khamovnichesky Court. Khodorkovsky's lawyers called the charges baseless, and several critics believe they are politically motivated based on Khordorkovsky's opposition of former Russian president Vladimir Putin [JURIST news archive]. Also this week, the European Court of Human Rights [official website] published its January decision [text] to accept a $34 billion lawsuit [RIA Novosti] filed in 2004 by former managers of Khodorkovsky's company OAO Yukos Oil Co. [TIME backgrounder]. The complaint alleged that the tax charges against Yukos, which led the company to bankruptcy, were part of an illegal effort by the Russian government to seize the company. In accepting the claims, the court rejected arguments by the Russian government that the complaint should not be heard because the claimants failed to exhaust all appeals in Russian courts and that that the company did not legally existed after 2007.
Khodorkovsky was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2005 for fraud and tax evasion, charges which he still denies. Khodorkovsky applied for early release last July, but his application was rejected [JURIST reports] by a Russian judge in August because he disobeyed guards at the Krasnokamensk penal colony [Guardian backgrounder], refused to participate in a training program, and faced the possibility of additional charges. Khodorkovsky appealed [JURIST report] that decision in September.