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On Tuesday, the Russian Supreme Court has passed a ruling over the appeal, which the lawyers of YUKOS and MENATEP former stockholders Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev filed. The lawyers demanded the verdict on the YUKOS second criminal case should be cancelled and the criminal case should be terminated. The court has just reduced the term in prison for each convicted by two months. According to the new verdict, Platonov will be released from prison in May 2014 and Khodorkovsky - in August 2014. However, it is not ruled out that already after the release from prison the businessmen will face one more trial, particularly if the Supreme Court will cancel the verdict in the first criminal case against them and will pass it for a retrial on the basis of a recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Novye Izvestia daily recalled that the term in prison to Khodorkovsky began on October 25, 2005 and to Lebedev - on July 2, 2003. Thus, the figurants of this trial have one year and 2.5 months and 11 months, respectively, to serve their sentences. In May 2005 they were sentenced to nine years in prison on the accusation of fraud and tax evasion. Later the Moscow City Court mitigated the sentence to eight years to each convict. In December 2010 the YUKOS second criminal case was opened, under which the Khamovnichesky court in Moscow sentenced the former chief executives of the company to 14 years in prison for oil misappropriation and the legalization of the revenues from the oil sale. The Moscow City Court reduced the term in prison to them to 13 years six months later. On December 20, 2012, the presidium of the Moscow City Court reduced the sentence to them from 13 to 11 years. Now the Supreme Court commuted the sentence to ten years and ten months.
The Kommersant daily noted that shortly before a session of the Supreme Court, on July 25, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights has made public its ruling over the appeal from Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev and their lawyers to the criminal prosecution over the first YUKOS criminal case. In particular, not finding political motives in the criminal affair, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the rights of businessmen were violated during the investigation, trial and the term in prison. This fact, which was not directly related with the Tuesday session of the Supreme Court, however, affected the process of the court proceedings, as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his lawyers referred many times to the verdict of the European Court that entered into force, insisting on the unlawfulness of prosecution of the convicted in general.
In his speech Mikhail Khodorkovsky claimed that the second YUKOS criminal case made him sure finally of the opinion that “this did not concern the fulfillment of the law, but the readiness to sacrifice the reputation of the judicial system for a new term in prison to the opponents of the state authorities.”
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily recalled that the lawyers of the convicted insisted on the full cancellation of the verdict and the termination of the criminal case, as, in their view, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were tried twice for the same offences. “So, the same actions were interpreted in different ways in two different cases. People produce the oil and sell it - this is the action. Once this action is taken as tax evasion, second time the same action is taken as theft. In one case this is one concrete sanction and one concrete criminal article, in another case it is another sanction. It turns out that they were sued twice for the same physical action,” Maxim Dbar, head of the press centre of the lawyers of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, explained to the newspaper.