Russian Court Cuts Khodorkovsky Jail Sentence

Posted December 20th, 2012 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A Russian court has reduced the jail sentence of opposition leader and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky by two years, clearing the way for him to walk free in 2014.

The Moscow City Court says the decision, announced Thursday, came as a result of recent changes to Russian law regarding economic crimes.

Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 and sentenced in 2005 for tax evasion, along with his business partner, Platon Lebedev. They were later convicted of money laundering during a second trial in 2010.

Critics say the case was politically motivated because of Khodorkovsky's support of the opposition and his vocal criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

Both he and Lebedev are expected to be released in 2014 after serving 11 years of their 13-year sentences.

In comments published on Khodorkovsky's website, his lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said “the position of the defense team remains the same — our defendants are innocent and should be released immediately.”

They have filed an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights.

When asked about the reduction of Khodorkovsky's sentence, President Putin told reporters it was the court's decision alone and that he played no role in it. He also said he held no grudge against Khodorkovsky.