Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian High Court: Ex-Yukos Leaders' Detention Illegally Prolonged

Mikhail Khodorkovsky (left) and Platon Lebedev in Moscow City Court in May
Mikhail Khodorkovsky (left) and Platon Lebedev in Moscow City Court in May
MOSCOW -- The Russian Supreme Court has ruled that the the law was violated when the preliminary detention of former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his deputy was extended, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The Supreme Court agreed on September 13 with a complaint made by former Yukos oil giant head Khodorkovsky and his associate, Platon Lebedev, and issued a special statement to Moscow City Court Chairwoman Olga Yegorova regarding the violations.

The Supreme Court ruled that the decision by the Moscow City Court to prolong the incarceration last year of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev by three months was made with "violations of procedural requirements."

Yury Shmidt, a Khodorkovsky lawyer, told RFE/RL after the Supreme Court judgment that he is skeptical about the ruling's possible impact on his client's future.

"It's hard to say if [the Supreme Court's ruling] will have any impact on [Yegorova's] future. It all depends on whether they want her [to remain in her position] or not," Shmidt said. "And this decision will have no impact on the future of Khodorkovsky or Lebedev. It only states once again that [the authorities] are always right. It's like exonerating someone after they have served a prison sentence."

Meanwhile, Lebedev lawyer Yelena Liptser told RFE/RL that the Supreme Court's ruling confirms that the Moscow City Court has been ignoring the law.

"The Supreme Court ruling regarding [Yegorova] shows that it has agreed with our position that the Moscow City Court consistently ignores the law and therefore discredits the judiciary," Liptser said.

In December, Moscow's Khamovnichesky court found Khodorkovsky and Lebedev guilty of stealing oil and laundering the proceeds. They were then each sentenced to 14 years in jail. 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