Khodorkovsky associate moved back to colony after Moscow video linkup

Platon Lebedev, the business partner and associate of the jailed oil tycoon and outspoken Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been returned to a penal colony in Russia’s northwestern Arkhangelsk region, police said on Tuesday.

Lebedev was held at pre-trial Detention Center 4 in Arkhangelsk where he spoke during a video linkup with the Moscow City Court, before being transferred to the Velsk Colony on Monday,” a local police source told RIA Novosti.

The source said Lebedev was likely to serve the remaining five years of his term there.

Speaking to Moscow’s court last week, Lebedev, who was found guilty late last year along with Khodorkovsky of stealing billions of dollars from their own oil firm Yukos and laundering the proceeds, said that his detention last year was illegally extended.

The court however upheld Judge Viktor Danilkin’s decision to keep Lebedev in custody between May 17 and August 17, 2010.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had been nearing the end of a separate eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion from their 2005 trial when they were told that they would have to stay in jail until 2017 in a widely condemned trial in December.

A Moscow court upheld the two men’s second conviction last month, but cut their sentences by a year. Amnesty International subsequently recognized Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as prisoners of conscience.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, claims the charges against him are revenge for his funding of opposition parties during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, something the government denies.

The European Court of Human Rights said last month the ex-Yukos bosses’ first trial was not politically motivated but said there were numerous violations of Khodorkovsky’s conditions of detention after his arrest in October 2003.

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