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Jailed Ex-Yukos Official Suffers Parole Setback


 Former Menatep head Platon Lebedev in the Velsk courtroom for a parole hearing on July 26

Former Menatep head Platon Lebedev in the Velsk courtroom for a parole hearing on July 26

VELSK, Russia -- A Russian court has denied parole to Platon Lebedev, the business partner of jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, keeping him in prison until the end of his sentence in 2016.

Russian prison authorities had earlier given Lebedev a "negative assessment" at his hearing in court, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

Officials from the labor camp in the northwestern city of Velsk said in court that Lebedev has violated the penitentiary's regulations twice since he was transferred there from a detention center in Moscow last month.

Early release on parole is contingent primarily on a camp inmate receiving a "positive assessment" of his or her behavior during incarceration.

The court had agreed to take into consideration alternative "positive assessments" submitted by Lebedev's friends and relatives. One of those assessments was issued by the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center in Moscow, where Lebedev was held before and after his December trial.

Dmitry Muratov, chief editor of the Moscow-based newspaper "Novaya gazeta," well-known Russian actress Natalya Fateyeva, and Lebedev's wife and brother stated at the July 26 hearing that they supported Lebedev's early release on parole.

On December 27, Moscow's Khamovnichesky court found Lebedev and Khodorkovsky -- his former business partner at the oil giant Yukos -- guilty of stealing oil and laundering the proceeds. They were then each sentenced to 14 years in prison. The terms were later reduced by one year.

Lebedev and Khodorkovsky were originally convicted and sentenced for tax evasion in 2005.

In May, Amnesty International declared the two men to be prisoners of conscience and called for their release.

Read more in Russian here
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