* Kremlin adviser concerned about investment image
* Analysts see growing rivalry between Putin, Medvedev
* Criticism despite Russia’s big oil deal with BP last week
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (Reuters) -- A top adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that a new verdict against ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky could hurt Russia’s investment climate.
Khodorkovsky was sentenced at the end of last year to stay in prison until late 2017 after what his supporters described as a politically charged theft and money-laundering trial. The Unites States has sharply criticised the decision.
Arkady Dvorkovich, the Kremlin’s top economic adviser, said the ruling could heighten investor concerns, saying he expected to hear more criticism of the decision.
“It will raise serious questions for the larger part of the international community and will heighten the risk outlook in the Russian Federation,” Dvorkovich said in an online question and answer session on the news portal Gazeta.ru.
The sentence has stoked accusations of selective justice and many analysts see the case as a political vendetta against an adversary of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. [ID:nLDE6BT0Z7]
Dvorkovich’s remarks echo Medvedev’s softer tone on the trial and contrast with Putin’s tough tone on the case.
Speculation has been mounting about growing rivalry between Putin and Medvedev -- Putin’s hand-picked successor -- ahead of a presidential election next year. Putin has said the two would decide who runs closer to the event.
Western countries, including the United States and Germany, have criticised the decision to keep Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, in jail for six more years on top of an eight-year term dating from October 2003.
In his remarks, Dvorkovich said Moscow had yet to see the full extent of the ruling’s fallout.
“What the cost is to (Russia’s) image and relations with investors, I think we will see very soon: In exactly one week, we will see and hear everything at Davos,” he said, referring to the Jan. 26-30 World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
“These questions will be asked of every member of the Russian delegation and (the status of) relations with investors will become clear.”
Yet, despite these concerns, Russia clinched a big oil deal with BP Plc BP.L last week which analysts said would only help boost to Russia's investment climate. [ID:nLDE70G175]
Khodorkovsky built a fortune by buying state assets cheaply following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union but fell foul of the Kremlin during Putin’s first term as president and was arrested in 2003 by armed security service agents. (Editing by Maria Golovnina)
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