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Jailed Russian businessman granted release

Platon Lebedev, a business partner of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been granted immediate release.

Last updated: 23 Jan 2014 10:39
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Lebedev (left) and Khodorkovsky (right) were long-standing business partners who were arrested in 2003 [AP]

The Russian Supreme Court has ruled to grant immediate release to Platon Lebedev, the jailed business partner of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russian news agencies reported.

The two partners were sentenced to jail in 2005 after falling out with Vladimir Putin. The president pardoned Khodorkovsky last month, ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, but Lebedev did not seek a pardon and stayed in jail.

Platon Lebedev was a close associate of Khodorkovsky, heading Menatep Group, the holding company that had a controlling interest in Khodorkovsky's oil company Yukos.

Although he was far less visible than Khodorkovsky before his arrest in 2003, their close business involvement may have made the Kremlin view him as an enabler of Khodorkovsky's funding of opposition politicians and a tacit supporter of the tycoon's presumed political ambitions.

Lebedev had been due for release in May but the Supreme Court ruled that his sentence should be reduced and that he would be able to walk free on Friday.

It did not change a court order under which Lebedev and Khodorkovsky must pay $521m in tax arrears - an obstacle to Khodorkovsky's return to Russia after leaving for Germany in December.

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