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When will they be released?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev are likely to be released in 2014. Photo: Khodorkovsky.ru

The two most famous prisoners in the Barents Region remain behind bars. But Russian prosecutors might soon have to grant Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev freedom.

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After several unsuccessful attempts to grant the two formerly powerful businessmen an early release, Russian legislative changes might now pave the way for reduced prison sentences. 

In an appeal case against the Moscow court which in 2010 sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 13 years of jail, both prosecutors and defence now agree that the 2010 verdict is based on false conditions.

Both parts agree that the verdicts exceed the maximum penal frames for economic crimes of the kind, Newsru.com reports. While the prosecutors now proposes to limit the sentence from 13 to 11 years and three months, the defence lawyers argue that both men already have served their sentence and should be released immediately.

If the position of the prosecutor prevails, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will be free men in 2014, Interfax reports.

Changes in the Russian federal penal codex includes lower maximum sentenes for the kind of crimes for which Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were charged. The two formerly powerful businessmen were in in 2005 sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud and tax evasion and then in a second trial in 2010 sentenced to several more years for embezzlement.

Confronted with the issue in his recent 4,5 hour marathon-long press conference President Vladimir Putin again stressed that there is no politics behind the cases against the former oligarkh. Highlighting the independence of Russian courts, Putin said that ”there is no point in politicizing this issue”. 

As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the Velsk court in Arkhangelsk Oblast has twice granted Platon Lebedev an early release. However, Russian prosecutors have on both occasions appealed the decision and subsequently won support from higher courts. While Platon Lebedev is jailed in Velsk in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Mikhail Khodorkovsly is in a prison camp in Segezha in the Republic of Karelia.