PETROZAVODSK, December 8 - RAPSI. Defense attorneys of former YUKOS head Mikhail Khodorkovsky hope that he and his former business partner Platon Lebedev will be released as early as in 2012, attorney Yury Shmidt told journalists on Wednesday.

Khodorkovsky is now serving his sentence in Karelia and Lebedev - in Arkhangeslk Region.

"I have an intuition that they are to be free in 2012. I want to believe in this and, please, do not ask me any more about any evidence," said Shmidt.

He arrived to Petrozavodsk together with well-known writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, who presented to local residents a collection of articles, interviews and letters written by Khodorkovsky to Russian writers.

In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in prison for stealing 200 million tonnes of oil and money laundering.

They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into account the time they had already served of their eight-year sentences from their first trial in 2005. However, on May 24, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year. Now may be released in 2016.