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Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky's prison sentence cut by 2 years

By Alla Eshchenko and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 8:02 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
(File photo) Demonstrators carried banners of jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky during the Moscow protests.
(File photo) Demonstrators carried banners of jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky during the Moscow protests.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be eligible for release in 2014
  • The sentence for him and former business partner Platon Lebedev is cut by two years
  • Khodorkovsky, an oil magnate who backed an opposition party, was jailed in 2003

Moscow (CNN) -- A Moscow court has reduced the sentences of jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev by two years, the Russian Legal Information Agency said Thursday.

They will each continue to serve out an 11-year sentence, instead of 13 years, for oil theft and money laundering charges, the agency said in a statement.

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This will make both men eligible for release in 2014, Moscow City Court said.

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Khodorkovsky, an oil magnate who backed an opposition party, has been in jail since 2003 and was convicted in 2005 on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

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In 2010, when the pair's sentences on those counts were almost completed, they were convicted on oil theft and money laundering charges, effectively extending their prison term by six years.

The sentence was reduced Thursday after an appeal hearing over their sentence at Moscow City Court, state news agency RAPSI said.

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Russia has faced international criticism for its treatment of Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, with countries including the United States accusing it of "selective prosecution" and abuse of the legal system.

Khodorkovsky has said his prosecution was part of a Kremlin campaign to destroy him and take the company he built from privatization deals of the 1990s.

The Kremlin rejects the claims.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.

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