Putin irked by Yukos question at biz conference

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has sternly insisted that the crackdown on the now defunct oil company Yukos was "a special case," attempting to play down investors fears.

Putin spoke at Tuesday's investment conference in Moscow intended to portray investment-starved Russia as a haven for foreign capital.

Yukos was sold off after being slapped with alleged back tax claims critics called politically driven, and its assets were bought by a state oil company.

The case is frequently cited as a hurdle to attracting investment, a concern aired by a capital manager Tuesday. Putin said, "Yukos is a special case. It is a criminal case."

Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an 8-year prison sentence and faces decades more on similar charges.

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