Khodorkovsky pens graphic prison memoir

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The Independent Online

The jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has written a graphic account of his life behind bars in Siberian prison camps, including a stomach-churning tale in which he claimed an inmate cut himself open and threw his intestines at a guard.

Once the wealthiest man in Russia, the former billionaire's article for the Russian news magazine New Times is the first in which he has painted a picture of life in the country's notorious detention system and the people that he has served time with.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos, an oil firm, has been in jail since 2003 after being found guilty of fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement – convictions his supporters say were political and masterminded by the Kremlin. He is due to be released in 2016. Mr Khodorkovsky said he did not witness the gruesome incident he detailed but was told about it by a drug user named Kolya, 23, who turned up in jail with a terrible scar on his stomach. Mr Khodorkovsky wrote that the man mutilated himself after guards tried to pin a robbery on him.

The next time his cell was opened, Kolya threw his intestines at the guard, Mr Khodorkovsky wrote. "Kolya had opened himself up. For real. Real hari-kiri," he wrote. "The scar is as thick as a finger and the length of half his stomach."