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Prosecutors take aim at Yukos

From CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty

Khodorkovsky seen in Moscow's Basmanny district court Saturday.
Khodorkovsky seen in Moscow's Basmanny district court Saturday.

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The arrest of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has sent shock waves through the Russian stock market. CNN's Jill Dougherty has more. (October 27)
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russia's general prosecutor has asked a regional court to invalidate the election of a Yukos shareholder to Russia's upper house of parliament.

The move would revoke Vasily Shakhnovsky's immunity and open the door to his arrest, in another step against oil giant Yukos and its officials.

Two other key members of the Yukos team are currently in custody pending an investigation on charges of fraud and tax evasion -- Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and shareholder Platon Lebedev.

Shakhnovsky was elected in late October to the Federation Council -- Russia's lower house -- from an autonomous area of the Krasnoyark region of Siberia. Ten days before his election, he was indicted on charges of large-scale tax evasion totaling $1 million from 1998 to 2000.

Yukos lawyer Anton Drel, meanwhile, told CNN that Khodorkovsky, in detention in Moscow since his arrest last Saturday, "looks fine, is energetic" and is asking about his family, including his wife and children.

The billionaire oil baron, Drel said, is in a "very small room" with two additional people. The room, he said, has a TV and refrigerator and Khodorkovsky is not complaining about his facilities.

"He's ready for this life," Drel said.

Khodorkovsky "has no illusions" about his case, according to his lawyer, but "thinks that he has a good chance in a really open legal trial process." "He hopes for civil society, the legal system, and a good future," Drel said.

Moscow media, meanwhile, report that President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff resigned in protest after the weekend arrest of Khodorkovsky. The Kremlin press service did not comment on the reports.

Alexander Voloshin is one of the few members of the president's cabinet allied with former President Boris Yeltsin's administration and known as the "family."

Kremlin watchers say "the family" is locked in a losing battle with members of the government's security services known as the "power" clan or "siloviki".

Political analyst Lilia Shevtsova, of the Moscow Carnegie Center, told CNN the pending resignation of Putin's chief of staff is a sign that Putin faces two choices: keep Voloshin or replace him with someone who may open the door to major changes in domestic and even foreign policy.

Keeping him, she says, would mean a new compromise with the "siloviki."

"The siloviki are winning", she says and Putin is losing the tenuous balance of power he has tried to maintain. "

This is a deepening crisis, " Shevtsova says, "President Putin doesn't know what to do."

Shares in Yukos, which dived 15 percent on Monday, fell more than 5 percent to $11.77 on the RTS stock exchange on Wednesday. They fell 7.1 percent to 346.90 on rouble-denominated MICEX exchange.


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