MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - Former director of Yukos Oil Company Mikhail Khodorkovsky linked the criminal case against Vladimir Yevtushenkov with the conflict with state-owned Rosneft over the shares of Bashneft and advised to seek compromise, media reported Wednesday.
"Vladimir Yevtushenkov was stubborn, he did not want to pass his property at the conditions he was apparently offered. So it was decided to use the familiar old method. I think, there is nothing else here," Khodorkovsky told Vedomosti business daily.
One of Russia’s richest men and the head of Sistema conglomerate, Yevtushenkov was arrested on alleged charges over his suspected involvement in money-laundering. The prosecutors are probing into Sistema’s unlawful acquisition of Bashneft oil company’s shares. The court is to determine whether the shares Yevtushenkov legalized had been stolen from Russian Bashkotorstan Republic’s oil companies.
Experts said Yevtushenkov was being pressed because he took the shares Russia's largest state oil company Rosneft was also aiming to buy. Some linked the arrest to the Yukos case, where Khodorkovsky faced similar charges for unpaid taxes for his business and had to serve 10 years in prison, while his company was declared bankrupt.
The former Yukos head, however, said the two cases had differences, as he was an outspoken Kremlin critic, while Yevtushenkov is pressed for purely economic reasons.
"The Yukos case was still mainly based on a socio-political conflict... While here, the interest is purely commercial, this is the direct use of this situation," Khodorkovsky said.
He added that Yevtushenkov should agree to whatever conditions are offered to him, otherwise "the situation will be harsher."
"If Yevtushenkov has a chance to reach an agreement, he should go for it. I would not see any shame or discomfort if he agreed on any conditions," Khodorkovsky told RBC paper.
The two businessmen studied in the same university in Moscow. Later, Khodorkovsky worked at one of Yevtushenkov's factories.