In Moscow, parole has been granted to a lawyer for the disbanded Yukos oil company, jailed more than four years ago on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement.
Svetlana Bakhmina’s case had become a cause celebre. Thousands called for her release, claiming she was a pawn in the bitter battle between Yukos and the Kremlin. Bakhmina’s ex-boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has not been so lucky. In a separate Moscow court today, he pleaded not guilty to new charges of theft and embezzlement. The imprisoned former oil tycoon, once Russia’s richest man, is already half way through an eight year sentence for fraud and tax evasion and could face a further 22 more years behind bars if convicted. Khodorkovsky’s supporters say both cases are politically motivated, claiming the Kremlin wanted to thwart his political ambitions and gain more control over Russia’s oil revenues.