Wednesday's intriguing people
December 15th, 2010
01:02 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The former oil tycoon will not learn the verdict of a Russian court for about two more weeks, his attorney says, adding no reason was given for the delay.

Khodorkovsky (pictured above) and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, have been behind bars for seven years on tax evasion convictions.

They are presently charged with embezzling 218 tons of oil from Khodorkovsky’s firm, Yukos, and laundering more than 3 billion rubles (about $98 million), according to Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti. They are scheduled to hear a verdict in their new case December 27.

The men have maintained their innocence in all the charges, and their plight prompted human rights watchdogs to write President Dmitry Medvedev in October, saying the charges and trials “call into question your administration’s commitment to the rule of law and the legitimacy of the proceedings.”

The Khodorkovsky Center describes its billionaire patron as a patriot, energy pioneer, philanthropist and political prisoner and says his imprisonment is a “scar on the Russian political landscape.”

Human rights groups and the center allege Khodorkovsky was targeted for challenging the Kremlin and for his efforts to promote democracy.

Helen Clark

The head of the U.N. Development Program has thrown her support behind a surprising tourism proposal from Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry: making Chernobyl a hot spot for travelers.

The Wall Street Journal reported the ministry said it plans to start opening the site of the now-defunct nuclear power plant to visitors next month. Chernobyl, of course, is where a reactor exploded in 1986, leading to the spread of radiation.

It is considered the most catastrophic nuclear plant disaster in history.

The ministry says radiation levels have finally returned to near-normal levels, according to the Journal. A ministry spokeswoman told the paper that tour routes would be carefully planned to avoid any danger areas.

"There is an opportunity to tell a story here and, of course, the process of telling a story, even a sad story, is something that is positive in economic terms and positive in conveying very important messages," Clark said through a press officer, according to the newspaper.

For Ukraine, it's an opportunity to try and bring tourists to an unlikely area - and hopefully have them visit and stay in Kiev, about a day away from the reactor site.

Teodoro Petkoff

The editor of a leading Venezuelan opposition newspaper, Tal Cual, is throwing caution to the wind with his recent attacks on President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez’s opposition says that when the Venezuelan leader declared this week he needed to rule by decree to speed up relief efforts for the 130,000 left homeless by torrential rains, he really had more political ambitions.

Chavez’s party lost its supermajority in Parliament in the September elections. Opposition members will begin filling more than a third of the seats in January.

According to Reuters, Petkoff and other opponents say the decree rule, which can last up to 18 months, prohibits the newly empowered opposition from blocking legislation. It could further behoove Chavez as his approval numbers have dipped ahead of the 2012 election, they say.

Petkoff called the move “a totalitarian ... Christmas ambush” on Venezuelans and “a brutal attack, without anesthetics, against democratic life,” the Buenos Aires Herald reported. Chavez has said his critics are crazy and need Valium, according to the Argentine paper.

Another high-profile tussle between the socialist president and opposition media prompted Globovision owner Guillermo Zuloaga to leave the country after military intelligence arrested him this year for a speech that Chavez found offensive. Zuloaga also was accused of illegally storing cars with the intent to sell them for a profit.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Chavez has yanked the license for Venezuela’s oldest station, RCTV, as well as the licenses for dozens of radio stations.

Globovision remains on the air, but the government took a minority stake in the country's last opposition TV station with its June takeover of Banco Federal, The Miami Herald reported.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Frank

    People of Russia,
    If this man is a Billionaire in Russia,why would he need to embezel anything,I am sure Putin has a nice guloge(prison) in Sibera just waiting for this man to make sure he could never run for his job in Russia.

    December 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Homer Simpson

    absolute greed, on such a global level, wont be long now.

    December 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GuerillaGorilla

    To Chavez:
    Get off your power-trip and pay attention to the demands of your people and the govenment they have elected. If you can't take the heat of people talking bad about you, get out of politics!

    To Ukraine:
    Sign me up for the full tour and a night in Kiev's best hotel!

    To Russia: 218 tons of oil?!? Wow... and I thought the Russian govt was bad for hoarding several hundred thousand barrels (weighing in at about 1/4 ton each) of oil. He is an evil person for depriving the people of rougly 50 average sized tanks of fuel. (Note: You can't hear the sarcasm in my voice, but it is there I assure you.)

    December 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andreas Moser

    RE Khodorkovsky: And FIFA rewards Russia by awarding it the Football/Soccer World Cup:

    December 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fred Bartkowski

    You will tan on a cloudy day or even at night.

    December 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mmmmm

    Look at his hand, it's as big as his head! Oh no, he's a lefty...he did it!

    December 16, 2010 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    @Moser: Your blogg showed that the Iranian and Israeli podium were side by side. Where was the poor Iranian suppose to stand right? I agree. That show's me how stupid and ignorant GW Bush really is. He had us invade Iraq, when we should have gone into Iran.

    December 16, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Manisha

      guess the issue is solved. I cckehed your website and the new message prefix is getting displayed. Let me know if you still face any issues.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. odessa

    Thanks for article

    December 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |