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No early release for Khodorkovsky?

Ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is likely to remain Russia's most famous prisoner as his early release is becoming less likely, his lawyers fear.

The jailed oligarch has been cited for sharing cigarettes with fellow prisoners and leaving his workplace without permission ­ and this could be the reason for his parole denial, according to a statement on his press-service's website.

"Discipline citations that appeared just before the parole plea [which was planned, but hasn't been submitted yet] do not appear accidental," Vadim Klyuvgant, Khodorkovsky's lawyer, told Kommersant. "And there seems to be no initiative coming from the prison camp's administration."

Life behind bars

Both reports of misconduct were submitted in August by the administration of the Segezh prison camp, where Khodorkovsky is serving his latest prison term ­ 13 years for oil embezzlement and money laundering at Yukos, which was Russia's biggest oil company when Khodorkovsky was at the head of it.

Representatives of the Federal Penitentiary Service refused to comment on the issue, but didn't disprove reports of misconduct.

"We don't give out information on penalties as it would violate the law on personal data," Dmitry Belov, press-secretary at the service's department in Karelia, said.

All reports on penalties and rewards belong to the prisoner's personal file, he added.

Khodorkovsky's first request for parole, submitted while he was serving his first term after the initial Yukos-related criminal proceedings against him, was denied in 2008.

Fighting for freedom

The decision was motivated by reports of misconduct from prison administration ­ among which were penalties for drinking tea in an inappropriate place with another prisoner and for two lemons that were not on the list of items he received in a parcel.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty in December 2010 and sentenced to 14 years behind bars, their sentences later reduced by a year. By that time they had been serving their terms for the first Yukos case since 2005.

Both businessmen had the right to apply for early release. Lebedev's plea was denied in July, and Khodorkovsky's plea has not yet been entered, according to his lawyers who decided to wait before taking further action.

"We decided to wait for a decision on our appeal against Lebedev's parole denial," Yury Smidt, Khodorkovsky's lawyer, told Moskovskiye Novosti. "And considering that, we'll understand whether we will get denied at court or if we should wait for better times."


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