Khodorkovsky sentenсed to remain in jail until 2017

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head and key shareholder of the Yukos oil company has been sentenced to 13 years and 6 months in a penal colony for massive theft and money laundering.

The court ordered that the term included the term served by Khodorkovsky after his previous sentence, meaning that he will be released in 2017.

The sentence was expected before the New Year, even though the verdict’s reading session had been postponed. Judge Viktor Danilkin announced the initial guilty verdict on December 27. In the afternoon on December 30, the judge said that the punishment for Khodorkovsky would be a term in a penal colony and, at about 4pm Moscow time, he read the final sentence.

Khodorkovsky’s friend and former business partner Platon Lebedev, who stood trial within the same case received a similar sentence.

The court agreed with the prosecutors’ claim that the two accused inflicted the financial damage in the amount of over 892 billion rubles to the Yukos oil company and also that they laundered over 480 billion rubles from these funds. The judge said that Khodorkovsky’s testimony of innocence is not valid, as he himself said that he was in charge of the company for the whole period when the theft took place. The court added the fact that the accused had acted as a criminal group to the list of charges.

Both businessmen are now serving eight-year prison terms, after they were found guilty in 2005 of fraud and tax evasion. The initial sentence was nine years in penal colony, but the court reduced it to eight years after an appeal hearing. Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 and the eight-year term was to end in 2011.

On Thursday, the court agreed with the prosecutors’ claim that the two accused inflicted the financial damage in the amount of over 892 billion rubles to the Yukos oil company and also that they laundered over 480 billion rubles from these funds. The judge said that Khodorkovsky’s testimony of innocence is not valid, as he himself said that he was in charge of the company for the whole period when the theft took place. Despite the fact that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were majority shareholders in Yukos, there were other shareholders in this public company, whose interests were infringed upon by the financial scheme.

The court added the fact that the accused acted as a criminal group to the list of charges.

The judge said that the final sentence was softened in accordance with amendments to the criminal code adopted in 2010, which lessened the responsibility for economic crimes. In particular, the judge said that Khodorkovsky’s and Lebedev’s guilt was not in the fact that they bought the oil from Yukos’ extraction companies for artificially lowered prices, but that they sold the oil for prices much higher than the purchase price, and then transferred most of the profits to foreign bank accounts to be further used by members of the criminal group. The judge also denied the statements of the defense that the accused had been tried twice for the same crimes for which Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced in 2005, saying these were different both in essence and in time period.

The sentence to both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev was 13-and-a-half years, but the court ordered that seven-and-a-half years they already served for their first conviction, starting in 2003, are to be subtracted from the new term, and the six months they have remaining of their term in the colony be added to it. That makes the total actual sentence for each on the new charges 14 years. However, accounting for the already served time, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev must be released in 2017.

­Also read Gleb Pavlovsky's and Nikolay Svanidze's comments