[JURIST] Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] and his former business partner Platon Lebedev pleaded not guilty [RIA Novosti report] Monday to charges of money laundering and embezzlement. Khodorkovsky made two statements to the court, one reflecting his opinion on the charges, and the other specifically refuting [defense documents, PDF] each charge. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] filed these new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in February, alleging that the pair embezzled over $100 million [JURIST report] from Khodorkovsky's former company, Yukos [JURIST news archive]. If convicted, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev could face 22 years in prison.
Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year prison term for six counts of fraud [JURIST report], for which he was convicted in 2005. Khodorkovsky applied for early release last July, but his application was rejected [JURIST reports] by a Russian judge in August because he disobeyed guards at the Krasnokamensk penal colony and refused to participate in a training program. Khodorkovsky appealed [JURIST report] that decision in September.