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Russian Tycoon Is Wounded in Prison

April 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

MOSCOW — A prisoner slashed jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the face while he slept, his lawyer said Saturday.

The attorney, Yuri Schmidt, said Khodorkovsky had been attacked with a sharp object sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, required stitches and was recovering in the infirmary of the prison camp in Krasnokamensk, Schmidt said.

The attorney accused prison authorities of trying to cover up the incident.

Khodorkovsky, in prison since October, is serving eight years for tax evasion and fraud in a Siberian prison camp. The state carved up his Yukos oil empire.

In a separate statement posted on Khodorkovsky's website, Schmidt said his client had woken up in the middle of the night with his face covered in blood.

The Federal Prison Service played down the incident, saying its preliminary information was that Khodorkovsky suffered scratches to his nose during an argument with a fellow convict, Russian news agencies reported.

"An inquiry is underway. Khodorkovsky did not suffer any penetrating wounds, he just had a scratch on his nose. His health is not in danger," the penal service's director, Yuri Kalinin, was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Another Khodorkovsky lawyer, Natalya Terekhova, said her client had been stabbed in the left nostril, Gazeta.ru news website reported. She said the 23-year-old assailant had been moved to solitary confinement.

Khodorkovsky, 42, was convicted in May 2005 after a trial seen as punishment for his political ambitions and part of a state drive to control the oil industry.

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