MOSCOW: Imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has filed for parole, according to the text of appeal released Monday by his supporters.A Moscow appeals court last week upheld the second conviction of Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, keeping him behind bars until 2016 on politically tainted charges of stealing oil from his own company.He is eligible for early release since he has served half of his 13-year sentence. It would be Khodorkovsky’s second parole motion; his first was denied in 2008 by a judge who cited Khodorkovsky’s refusal to take part in sewing classes while in prison, and other alleged misdemeanors including failure to hold his hands behind his back during a prison walk.Khodorkovsky filed the appeal last Friday, according to its text posted on his supporters’ Web site. He said he is continuing to plead innocent to all charges.Khodorkovsky’s business partner Platon Lebedev, who was convicted on the same charges, filed his appeal Monday.Both men had previously appealed their second conviction at Russia’s Supreme Court. They also filed appeals to the European Court of Human Rights.Khodorkovsky and Lebedev each received a sentence of 8 years for their first conviction, and of 13 years for their second, but a judge ordered they run concurrently.Khodorkovsky was seen as a political threat to Vladimir Putin, who was president in 2003 when Khodorkovsky was arrested, and who remains Russia’s most powerful leader now that he is prime minister.Khodorkovsky is still in a Moscow pre-trial detention center, awaiting transfer to a prison camp. Lawyers say it’s unclear where he will serve out his sentence, his lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said.
The state-controlled national television network NTV ran a rare, seemingly balanced piece on Khodorkovsky late Sunday, in which he is cited as saying he “refuses to acknowledge the court decisions” and that “I will try to exercise my right to an early release” in written responses to the station’s questions.Coverage of Khodorkovsky in the Russian media, which Putin brought to heel in his first term as president from 2000 to 2004, has been overwhelmingly negative.The European Court of Human Rights is expected to deliver a judgment on Tuesday on whether Khodorkovsky’s rights were violated after his arrest in 2003. His lawyers protested the conditions in the prison where he was kept, an allegedly unlawful arrest, and the political motives behind his prosecution. – Yahoonews