Russian Tycoon's Sentence Shows Putin Still Calling Shots

Mikhail Khodorkovsky will remain behind bars until 2017
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2010 12:48 PM CST
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, reacts after being sentenced. He apparently saw it coming.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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(Newser) – Russia watchers were keeping a close eye on the sentencing of tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky today on seemingly trumped up embezzlement charges to see whether Vladimir Putin might be loosening his grip. With a judge giving Khodorkovsky the maximum 6 years on top of his earlier 8-year sentence, that answer seems to be a "resounding no," writes Kathy Lally in the Washington Post.

The decision is not only bad news for Khodorkovsky—a businessman-turned-political renegade who managed a smile when it was announced—but for President Dmitry Medvedev as well, notes the Christian Science Monitor. He's been pushing for meaningful legal reform, and today's sentence makes clear that Putin remains the true power-broker in his role as prime minister. He may yet run for president again in the 2012 elections.

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