MOSCOW, May 29 (RAPSI) - Leading Russian economist Sergei Guriev was questioned in connection with the YUKOS case, which made international headlines in recent years as former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was convicted of a variety of charges, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday citing the Investigative Committee.

Guriev, who has reportedly served as an advisor on economics to the government, resigned from his position as rector of the Russian Economic School and asked to be excluded from consideration for a spot on Sberbank’s supervisory board.

Russian media outlets have reported that this may have had to do with the Investigative Committee’s scrutiny.

RIA Novosti quoted Russian Economic Development Minister Andrew Belousov as having described Guriev’s resignation as a pity, explaining: “Sergei is a qualified expert, and everything that is happening to him now is unfortunate.”

The YUKOS case is one of the most high-profile cases to come out of Russia in recent years. In the early 2000s, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were charged with economic crimes.

YUKOS, then the country's largest oil company, was declared bankrupt and its assets were taken over by Rosneft. Many in the West believe that the case was politically driven, although Moscow denies the charges.

In 2005, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion within the first YUKOS case.

In late 2010, the Khamovniki District Court sentenced them to 14 years in prison for stealing oil and laundering money as part of a second case. They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into consideration the time they had served for the convictions handed down at their first trial. Their sentences were later reduced by one year.

On December 20, 2012, the Moscow City Court Presidium further reduced their sentences from 13 to 11 years.

According to RIA Novosti, Guriev provided expertise for Presidential Civil Society and Human Rights Council report on the legality of the second case brought against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.

His contribution to the report maintained Khodorkovsky’s innocence, and emphasized the claim that there was no conflict of interest related to affiliates of YUKOS and Khodorkovsky.

Last year, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin claimed that some of those that had evaluated the legality of the second case were affiliates that had taken Yukos funds, according to RIA Novosti.