Former Russian oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday reissued an appeal [RIA Novosti report] for release on parole that was returned to him due to insufficient documentation. Khodorkovsky has served half of a 13-year sentence for fraud, theft and money laundering, which under Russian law makes him eligible for parole. Once CEO of Yukos Oil [JURIST news archive] and one of the richest men in Russia, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev [defense website; JURIST news archive], who is serving time for similar charges, filed parole requests, but a Russian court Monday refused to consider the requests [Reuters report] because they were not properly supplemented with documents showing the men are actually serving their sentences, which are scheduled to run until 2016. Khodorkovsky has denied all the charges and maintains that he was falsely convicted as retribution for funding opposition parties during the presidency of now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [official website]. Yukos was split up and Russian state-controlled oil firm Rosneft eventually bought the largest production assets, making Rosneft the country's biggest oil producer.
Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled that Khodorkovsky did not prove his prosecution and detention for tax evasion and fraud were politically motivated but found that his detention violated human rights standards. Last month, a Moscow court upheld a second set of fraud convictions [JURIST report] against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev but reduced their sentences by one year. The two men, already serving sentences handed down in 2005 for fraud and tax evasion, were convicted in December of embezzling from their company, Yukos Oil, and sentenced [JURIST reports] to an additional eight years. They appealed, alleging, among other things, that Judge Viktor Danilkin did not write the verdict [JURIST reports] and that he was coerced into reading it. Khodorkovsky vehemently criticized [press release] the ruling as flying in the face of the rule of law. The two men can now expect to be released in 2016 instead of 2017. The December verdict drew harsh international criticism [JURIST report], including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official profile], who said [press release] that the ruling "raises serious questions about selective prosecution." The Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs [official website, in Russian] dismissed critics, saying [press release, in Russian] that "[a]ttempts to exert pressure on the court are unacceptable."