VELSK, August 6 – RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) hosted a live text broadcast from the Velsk District Court of the hearing of Platon Lebedev’s appeal to mitigate his sentence.

In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced former YUKOS head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Lebedev to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. They were to be released in 2017, taking into consideration the time they had already served for their convictions from their first trial in 2005.

However, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year in May 2011, and they are now expected to be released in 2016.
Lebedev submitted the appeal to mitigate his sentence after retroactively applicable amendments were introduced to the Criminal Code, reducing the punishment for his crime from ten years to seven years.

Attorney Alexei Miroshnichenko stressed that former YUKOS top manager Vladimir Pereverzin, who was charged under the same articles, was released after the amendments came into effect.

Lebedev has asked the court to recognize his term as having been served, and also asked for Khodorkovsky’s release.

Earlier in July Lebedev’s parole application was dismissed.

Live transcript

15:59 The judge prohibited the lawyers from presenting their case. The judgment is expected to be handed down tomorrow at 11am Moscow time (GMT +4).

15:54 The prosecutor is not opposed to a sentence reduction in connection with the relevant legislative changes. "Still, considering the nature and the extent of the public threat, I do not believe that there are grounds to reduce the sentence to time served. Thus I request that the defense motion be satisfied only in part," he said. In the prosecutor's view, the sentence should be reduced to 11 years, three months.

15:42 Copies of complaints filed with Supreme Court chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev were amended to the case record. The judge was interested in the reaction of the Supreme Court. The defense attorney explained that the Supreme Court has proposed that the court verify that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were not convicted twice for the same crime, and that the court review other aspects of the sentence rendered by Khamovnichesky Court.

15:34 The defense attorney urged that Lebedev's family should be treated humanely, and proposed that he read aloud a copy of a letter written by Lebedev's young daughter to the judge who had presided over his parole hearing. Krasnov reminded the court that Lebedev's youngest daughter was born just two weeks prior to his arrest and that they have not spent a single day as a family. He further noted Lebedev's high moral and ethical qualities. "He should not be here but in free society, able to connect with other people."

15:29 "We ask you, your honor, to reduce our client's sentence to time served. Do this in accordance with the Constitution, the Criminal Code, decisions of the Constitutional Court, and other such legal norms," Krasnov said.

15:24 Krasov referred to the Lebedev case as a political one and stated that the only sollution is his client's immediate release. He alluded to a change in the relevant criminal legislation.

15:18 The court also refused to append the case record to include a copy of a local newspaper article about Lebedev. According to the article, he assisted with the treatment of an ill child. The court agreed with the prosecution that this was irrelevant.

15:14 The court refused to attach the Pereverzin decision to Lebedev's case record.

15:13 Lebedev's defense team has filed with the court an order for the commutation of the sentence of former YUKOS manager Vladimir Pereverzin. The defense attorney said that the same charges were brought against both Pereverzin and Lebedev, the relevant facts are the same for both cases, and that neither one admitted guilt. Pereverzin served only a seven year, two month prison term, whereas Lebedev is now in his 10th year of detention. The defense thus believes that the court must decide to release Lebedev.

15:00 The hearing is starting.

14:58 There are about 10 journalists in the courtroom, but there are no television crews among them. Lebedev's lawyers - including local lawyer Larisa Vaserkina - present in the courtroom. The prosecutor has arrived as well. The hearing is about to begin.

14:57 A young judge named Natalia Sidorak is responsible for keeping the media presence in court at bay. She has asked the journalists to remain quiet, but has permitted the use of non-flash photography and video-recording equipment throughout the course of the proceedings. Flash is prohibited because it may interfere with the proceedings. According to Sidorak, the decision on Lebedev's motion will most likely be announced tomorrow.

14:52 Lebedev's two lawyers, Vladimir Krasnov and Alexey Miroshinchenko, arrived early in order to visit their client in prison. He confirmed that he will not participate in this hearing.

14:45 Today's hearing is being held in the same courtroom where one year ago Lebedev's motion for release on parole was heard. This is the largest room in the courthouse, in order to accommodate all of the journalists and spectators. Judge Viktor Ivanov will preside over the proceedings.

Today’s text is administered by Anna Shubina, Ingrid Burke and Vladimir Yaduta.