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Oligarch ends prison hunger strike

Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky ended his 14-day hunger strike in prison.

Khodorkovsky, the former CEO of the Yukos Oil Co., was Russia’s richest man before being convicted of tax evasion in a case widely criticized as political punishment for his opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s government. The one-time billionaire is imprisoned in Chita, in the Russian Far East

Khodorkovsky, whose father is Jewish, began the hunger strike last month to protest the treatment of business associate Vasily Alexanian, a Yukos vice president who is dying of HIV/AIDS in a Russian hospital. Alexanian claimed that Russian authorities offered to move him to a hospital for treatment if he would testify in further proceedings against Khodorkovsky. Alexanian refused.

Last Friday, now almost blind and reportedly near death, Alexanian was moved to a special clinic, according to a report by Reuters. Khodorkovsky issued a statement Monday through his Web site, khodorkovsky.info, declaring an end to the protest.

“I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has reacted to these outrageous acts of inhuman torture perpetrated on an innocent man in order to force him to give false testimony,” read the statement.

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