updated 2/25/2005 8:42:15 AM ET 2005-02-25T13:42:15

Ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Friday told the court trying him for tax evasion, fraud and misappropriation that he was innocent.

“I do not consider myself guilty of a single charge that has been brought against me,” he said in a three-hour testimony from the courtroom cage where he has sat during the 9-month-old trial with co-defendant Platon Lebedev.

Khodorkovsky said that he had managed a successful company “and helped a number of others to rise from the ruins after the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Reading from a thick sheaf of notes, Khodorkovsky methodically responded to each of the prosecution’s accusations against him. He argued that he was not responsible for the decision-making behind some of the alleged violations, and that in any case, there was nothing wrong with the company’s actions under the laws that existed at the time.

Prosecutors are making “deliberately false declarations,” he said each time he came to the end of his response to an accusation.

“The state prosecutor has not provided any evidence, but he tries to ... create it,” Khodorkovsky said, adding that he felt sorry for the prosecutor, Dmitry Shokhin, because “his role is to make a stand for the illegal hypotheses of others.”

Khodorkovsky’s emotional testimony in the packed, sweltering courtroom came the day after a U.S. court dismissed Yukos’ bankruptcy case, saying the company didn’t have enough of a presence in the United States to establish U.S. jurisdiction over a Russian company.

Once Russia’s biggest oil producer, Yukos was the target of a months-long back-tax investigation that culminated in the sale of its main production facility, Yuganskneftegaz, against $28 billion in back-tax claims at a disputed auction in December.

Observers say the case is punishment for jailed Khodorkovsky’s funding of opposition parties, while the Kremlin insists the investigation targets a rotten business empire and its owners.

In an 11th-hour attempt to block the auction, Yukos filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas the week before the sale of Yuganskneftegaz, which pumps 1 million barrels per day, was to take place.

But Yukos’ presence in the United States consisted only of two bank accounts in Texas and its displaced finance chief, who conducted business from his Houston home.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Clark’s dismissal of the Chapter 11 case on Thursday forces Yukos to rely on European arbitration proceedings and so-far unsuccessful appeals in Russian courts in its battle against a disputed multibillion-dollar back-tax levy.

It also squashes bankruptcy-related lawsuits stemming from the auction of Yuganskneftegaz. Those lawsuits include a $20 billion claim against four state companies for allegedly violating asset protection afforded under U.S. bankruptcy law by participating in the Dec. 19 sale. Those companies include state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom and state-owned oil company Rosneft.

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