The Supreme Court of Russia [official website, in Russian] on Tuesday reduced the prison sentences of former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] and his business partner Platon Lebedev [JURIST news archive] by two months. As a result of the ruling, Khodorkovsky should now be released from prison [Reuters report] in August 2014, with Lebedev due for release a few months earlier. This ruling came in the wake of the recent judgment [JURIST report] by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], where the court determined that the 2005 trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev was not politically motivated. The ECHR did, however, did find that various aspects of the court proceedings had violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. After the ECHR ruling, lawyers for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev argued that Russia should immediately quash the convictions and release the men from prison. After Tuesday's ruling, Khodorkovsky's lawyer reported that he would appeal once again, with hope that Khodorkovsky would be released prior to August of next year.
Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are each serving prison sentences for fraud, theft and money laundering. In 2010 former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] testified that President Vladimir Putin [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] had ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Khodorkovsky for political reasons. Kasyanov stated that Putin indicated that Khodorkovsky had funded the Communist Party without approval from the president, prompting his arrest. In December the Human Rights Ombudsman [backgrounder] in Russia, Vladimir Lukin [official profile], filed an appeal [JURIST report] in a Moscow court following the ruling against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, because the two men were ordered to pay restitution for the same losses twice, once in 2005 and once in 2010. In the same month, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had their sentences commuted [JURIST report] by the Moscow City Court from 13 years to 11 years, making both men eligible for release in 2014.