MOSCOW, May 18 - RAPSI. The Supreme Court has denied the appeal filed by former YUKOS heads Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev against their second prison sentence, the court reports on its website on Friday.

The decision was passed on May 15.

In 2005, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced them to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into account the time they had already served for their convictions from their first trial in 2005. However, on May 24, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year. They now may be released in 2016.

The YUKOS case has been one of the most high profile in Russia in recent years. In the early 2000s, the authorities accused YUKOS management of embezzlement and tax evasion. YUKOS was later declared bankrupt and its assets were transferred to the state-run Rosneft company. Many in the West still think the YUKOS case was politically driven. However, Russian authorities flatly deny the allegations.