28/7 Tass 418
MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Mikhail Fedotov said former MENATEP CEO Platon Lebedev, whose appeal for parole was rejected on Wednesday, July 27, should be released under economic amnesty.
“I think the question with regard to Lebedev should be raised not under parole but under broad amnesty for entrepreneurs who were faced criminal charges and were sentenced for economic crimes over the last 10 years,” Fedotov said.
Russia needs modernisation, and “if we speak about liberalisation of laws and economic life in general, it’s high time we announced economic amnesty”, he said.
Fedotov noted that a draft document declaring economic amnesty to be timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Russia’s independence had already been handed over to President Dmitry Medvedev.
“It’s not a secret that many entrepreneurs faced criminal charges under fabricated accusations as there are no injured parties in 90 percent of economic crimes,” he said.
At the same time, Fedotov said that the court ruling on Lebedev did no surprise him because the latter had reprimands. “If there are reprimands, this may provide the grounds for denying parole, but if the lawyers contest them and the reprimands are lifted, Lebedev can appeal fro parole again,” he explained.
The judge of the Velsk City Court in the Arkhangelsk region, 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.
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.