X Close

World

Published: Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 6:10:55 PM
Updated: Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 6:10:55 PM

Russian court orders release of ex-aide to Khodorkovksy

Platon Lebedev (2nd R), jailed business partner of Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is escorted after hearing the verdict during a court session to consider a request for parole in Velsk in Arkhangelsk Region July 27, 2011. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

Platon Lebedev (2nd R), jailed business partner of Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is escorted after hearing the verdict during a court session to consider a request for parole in Velsk in Arkhangelsk Region July 27, 2011. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The former business partner of Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be released from prison on Friday under a ruling by Russia's Supreme Court that reduced his sentence.

Platon Lebedev is the latest high-profile prisoner to be freed in Russia as President Vladimir Putin tries to soften criticism of his record on human rights and democracy before next month's Winter Olympics on Sochi.

Lebedev, who with Khodorkovsky was sentenced for tax evasion in 2005 and later convicted on other charges, had been due for release in May but the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that his sentence should be reduced.

"Release Lebedev," Supreme Court Judge Pyotr Serkov declared in the ruling after reducing his sentence so that it amounted to time served.

Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man and the head of the oil company Yukos, last month. But Lebedev, who is being held close to the Arctic Circle, did not seek a pardon and had remained in jail.

The court did not change a court order under which Lebedev and Khodorkovsky must pay 17 billion roubles ($521 million) in tax arrears - an obstacle to Khodorkovsky's return to Russia after leaving for Germany in December.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were regarded by human rights groups as political prisoners. The Kremlin denies using the courts for political purposes.

Other prominent inmates freed in the past few weeks included two women from the Pussy Riot protest group jailed over the performance of a "punk prayer" critical of Putin in a Russian Orthodox church.

advertisement

  1. Karpal Singh’s final journey, thousands bid farewell
  2. Penang mourns passing of Karpal Singh, says Guan Eng in eulogy
  3. Karpal Singh: Emotional moment as thousands pay their last respects at funeral
  4. Storify: The Tiger sleeps today
  5. Karpal, my hometown hero
  6. JPJ: Driving licence for automatic cars out in June
  7. MH370 search: Next 48 hours crucial, says Hishammuddin
  8. Gobind: My father was a simple man, who enjoyed simple things
  9. CM proposes that sea front be renamed Karpal Singh Drive
  10. Karpal Singh: Cortege to leave 45 minutes earlier

advertisement

advertisement