28/7 Tass 423
MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Former YUKOS oil company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he would go ahead with his request for parole despite his business partner MENATEP financial company CEO Platon Lebedev’s fiasco.
“The rejection of Lebedev’s petition for parole cannot affect our decision to file a petition for parole and we will fight for it,” Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant told Itar-Tass.
He noted that the Velsk court’s ruling that denied parole to Lebedev was not a surprise to him, but showed that “nothing has changed” in the judicial system.
State Duma Security Committee Deputy Chairman Vladimir Kolesnikov, too, cautioned against hasty forecasts about Khodorkovsky’s petition in light of Lebedev’s failure.
“I made myself very clear and I have not changed my position as far as these two convicts are concerned,” Kolesnikov, who was deputy prosecutor general when the investigation of tax violations in YUKOS started, said.
“There is the court ruling, I respect it and sincerely hope that it is fully in line with the relevant laws and bylaws. But I will not change my position,” he added.
Earlier, Kolesnikov supported parole for both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.
“It is too early to make any forecasts about the decision on Khodorkovsky [petition for parole]. But let them not fall into despair because they can file a petition again and it will be considered. One should not lose his heart, one should fully comply with all of the penitentiary system’s requirements,” Kolesnikov said.
He believes that Khodorkovsky’s petition will be studied “objectively”.
“I do wish sincerely that there be no parallels [with Lebedev’s petition], and I continue to hope that there can be a totally different decision in this case,” he said.
On Wednesday, July 27, the Velsk City Court in the Arkhangelsk region rejected Lebedev’s petition for parole.
Velsk City Court Judge Nikolai Raspopov denied he had made his decision under pressure.
“This is an absolutely objective decision and [it was] made by my conviction,” the judge said.
He stressed that Lebedev had been denied parole not only because he had failed to repent, but “for a number of reasons” and in accordance with the law.
After two-day hearings, the court came to the conclusion that Lebedev “did not repent for his doings”, had breached regulations during his entire term, “was never rewarded, and his behaviour gives no indication that he does not need incarceration for further correction”.
“The purpose of punishment has not been achieved, whereby parole would be unadvisable,” the judge said.
Lebedev’s lawyers intend to appeal. “We will certainly appeal,” Lawyer Alexei Miroshnichenko said.
An appeal can be filed with the Arkhangelsk Region Court within 10 days.
Khodorkovsky submitted his request through the prison administration on May 27.
He wrote that the charges brought against him provided for release on parole after half of the term has been served. Khodorkovsky stressed that he was not guilty and would continue to contest the verdict in the European Court of Human Rights.
This is Khodorkovsky’s second request for parole. In August 2008, Khodorkovsky, who by that time had served more than four out of eight years given to him by court in the first case in 2005, also asked to be released on parole. However, even if released, he would have remained in custody due to charges brought against him in a second case, in which he was sentenced in late 2010.
On May 24, the Moscow City Court commuted the sentence for Lebedev and his business partner, former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky within the second criminal case to 13 years.
The court changed the verdict handed down by Moscow’s Khamovniki Court on December 30, 2010, which sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in jail for theft of oil and money laundering.
The verdict became effective.
The Moscow City Court also upheld the prosecutor’s petition, cutting the amount of stolen oil by 130 million tonnes and its value by more than 68 billion roubles.
Moscow’s Khamovniky Court Judge Viktor Danilkin said at the trial that “the guilt of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is borne out by the proof examined during the judicial investigation.”
The judge proclaimed Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty of stealing oil from a producing company and of laundering ill-gotten funds.
At the same time, the court dropped certain criminal charged against the defendants due to the statute of limitation. Lebedev’s lawyer Konstantin Rivkin referred particularly to the episode concerning the theft of Eastern Oil Company (VNK) shares.
In May 2005, Moscow’s Meshchansky Court found Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty under several articles of the Russian Criminal Code, including fraud and tax evasion and sentenced them to nine years in prison.
Later the Moscow City Court reduced the term to eight years.
Since the prison term begins from the time a person has been put in custody, Lebedev’s term will end in July 2011, and Khodorkovsky’s in October 2011.
In February 2007, the Prosecutor General’s Office brought new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, accusing them of having legalised 450 billion roubles and 7.5 billion U.S. dollars in 1998-2004 by stealing state-owned shares as well as embezzling oil and legalising earnings from its sale.