Court backtracks on jail statements at former Yukos boss parole hearing

The court considering parole for Platon Lebedev, the business partner of jailed Yukos tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, agreed to accept previously rejected statements on Wednesday documenting infringements of the rules by Lebedev in prison.

The Velsk colony in the Archangelsk region in the north-west of Russia, where Lebedev is serving his second, six-year sentence, said he had lost his overalls and had been disrespectful to prison officials. The judge initially rejected the papers on Wednesday, saying they were filed improperly.

Later in the day, prosecutors submitted the same documents, this time with proper seals.

“Your decision, which radically differs from the previous one, is illegal and groundless,” Lebedev’s lawyer Konstantin Rivkin, told the judge. “I think that the shift in your stance was due to external factors, not because of your personal conviction.”

Lebedev said at his parole appeal he had already served a period “more than twice as long as the Great Patriotic War.” The Great Patriotic War is the term in Russia for that part of World War Two involving the Soviet Union, from 1941-45.

Lebedev cited three reasons for parole.

“I believe that in the Russian Federation, which in accordance with the Constitution is a legal state, the existence of political prisoners is unacceptable,” Lebedev said. “You, your honor, have the opportunity to correct this.”

Lebedev also said that he has a number of chronic diseases and needs a medical treatment.

The third reason Lebedev cited was his family.

“For nine years I have been deprived my freedom and the ability of being a husband, father and grandfather. That is

The court also rejected a 2003 financial report by Group Menatep Ltd presented by the prosecutor’s office. Lebedev used to head MFO Menatep before his arrest.

Lebedev and his partner Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, were sentenced to stay in jail until 2016 in a second trial in December. They were first jailed in 2003. They have denied all charges against them, claiming that the Yukos case was revenge by Russia’s powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for Khodorkovsky’s sponsorship of opposition groups in Russia in the early 2000s. The Russian authorities have categorically denied the claim.

Khodorkovsky asked for parole last month but court refused to consider it. Putin earlier likened him to American gangster Al Capone and said “a thief should be in jail.”

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