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Former Yukos executive Vasily Aleksanyan dead at 39

MOSCOW, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Vasily Aleksanyan, a former vice president and attorney for Russia's bankrupt Yukos oil company, has died at the age of 39, his family announced.

Aleksanyan spent three years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion before he was freed in 2009 in order to seek treatment for AIDS-related illnesses, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

"Aleksanyan's death, no doubt, was hastened by the fact that he was kept in prison for a long time while he was seriously sick," said human rights advocate Lev Ponomarev. " He went blind in prison."

Aleksanyan quit Yukos after his former boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003. He returned to the company in March 2006 as an executive vice president to work with Yukos' court-appointed bankruptcy manager.

A month later he was arrested and charged with embezzlement and tax evasion.

Aleksanyan and his lawyers accused the government of using his HIV-positive condition as a bargaining chip.

They threatened to withhold medical treatment unless he agreed to testify against Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev.

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