One-third of Russians want Khodorkovsky's early release - poll

Russians' interest in the fate of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky is not changing and his hypothetical participation in presidential elections does not inspire them, a public opinion poll conducted by Levada Center shows.

Russians' interest in the fate of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky is not changing and his hypothetical participation in presidential elections does not inspire them, a public opinion poll conducted by Levada Center shows. The poll was conducted in 130 populated areas of 45 regions of Russia.

Just like 2 or 3 years ago, only one-third of the respondents (30-33 percent) continue to follow Mikhail Khodorkovsky's situation with various degrees of activity and most respondents (49 percent) said they are not interested in it. Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they had not heard anything about Khodorkovsky or could not answer the question.

Seventy-four percent of the respondents said they personally did not feel any positive effects from the seizure of Yukos from its owners (only 4 percent said they felt such effects), and 78 percent said they do not believe the funds received from selling Yukos were used for the development of the Russian housing and utilities sector (only 3 percent said they believe in it).

Seventy-one percent of the respondents said they are convinced that the bankruptcy and sale of Yukos were only profitable to businessmen who were close to the authorities and officials.

In the meantime, 12 percent of the respondents believe it would be better for the country in this situation if people like Khodorkovsky were in prison, while 44 percent believe such people should work in business or politics.

Thirty-three percent of the respondents said they favor Khodorkovsky's early release from prison, while 16 percent said they oppose it. Over half of the respondents (52 percent) said they are undecided on the matter.

Eleven percent of the respondents said they would vote for Khodorkovsky if he nominated himself for president, 67 percent said they would not vote for him, and the others (22 percent) were undecided.

Khodorkovsky turns fifty on June 26.

Khodorkovsky and former Menatep CEO Platon Lebedev were sentenced to 13 years in two separate trials. Their sentences were later reduced to eleven years. Their prison term ends in 2014.

The State Duma will consider a draft decree on economic amnesty in Russia on Tuesday. In the meantime, the lawyers for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are saying this amnesty will not apply to their clients.

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