NAME: Mikhail Khodorkovsky (RELEASED on December 20, 2013)
DATE OF BIRTH: June 26, 1963
OCCUPATION: Businessperson / Former Yukos CEO
DATE OF ARREST: October 25, 2003
NAME: Platon Lebedev (RELEASED on January 24, 2014)
DATE OF BIRTH: November 29, 1956
OCCUPATION: Businessperson / Former CEO of Menatep Group
DATE OF ARREST: July 2, 2003
SUMMARY: In 2010 Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were sentenced to 13 years and 6 months in prison for embezzlement and money-laundering due to charges brought in 2007, when both men were serving sentences in Siberia for previous tax evasion and fraud convictions in 2005. Both men have been detained since 2003.
Khodorkovsky headed the Russian oil company YUKOS, Russia’s richest oil company in 2003; Lebedev was his associate.
Amnesty International believes there is a political context to the arrest and prosecution these men and that their trials were unfair. AI calls for their convictions to be overturned.
FIRST TRIAL: In 2003, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were charged with fraud and tax evasion. Both claimed their cases were politically motivated, as did domestic human rights groups; both were sentenced to nine years in prison.
IMPRISONMENT IN SIBERIA: Khodorkovsky was sent to a Siberian labor camp in 2005, 6,000 km from Moscow. Lebedev was sent to Siberian labor camp over 2,000 km from Moscow. This violated Russian law and international standards of allowing serving of sentences near one’s home, making family and attorney contact difficult.
NEW CHARGES AND SUBSEQUENT RULINGS: In 2007 new charges of embezzlement and money laundering were brought against both men. The Russian Prosecutor had cases investigated in the town of Chita and both men were transferred there (journeys of several thousand kilometers), in violation of domestic law stating criminal investigations should be opened where the alleged crimes were committed. A Moscow court later ordered the cases opened in Moscow but the prosecutor appealed. AI believes that holding the investigation in Chita impeded the right of both men to prepare defenses, and is concerned about the harassment of Khodorkovsky’s legal team.
The defendants’ lawyers, Russian human rights groups and other analysts consider that the original prosecutions, and the renewed criminal charges, to be politically motivated. Regardless, the right to a fair trial is a basic human right and AI calls on the Russian authorities to respect this right.
In 2009 both men were moved from Chita to a Moscow pre-trial Detention Facility to face the new charges. In August 2010 (during the trial) both men’s detention was extended by three months, despite April 2010 Russian Criminal Code amendments stating suspects in economic crimes should not be placed in pre-trial detention.
In December 2010 both men were found guilty and sentenced to 13 years, 6 months each. The sentences will be counted from October 2003, meaning that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will remain in jail until 2017. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will remain in the pre-trial detention facility until the verdicts are in force. The lawyers have appealed.
AI believes Khodorkovsky’s trial was marred by many procedural violations, casting doubt on the integrity of both convictions. The manner in which the prosecution and trial have been conducted, the timing of the charges, harassment of lawyers and defense witnesses and the harsh conditions of detention, all point strongly to a long-established pattern of political motives and interference having obstructed the independent administration of justice in these cases.
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