Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered the early release of the former business partner of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was freed from prison last month after ten years behind bars, the BBC reports.
Platon Lebedev headed a holding company founded by Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, but was jailed in 2005 along with his business partner on charges of tax evasion and theft.
The Supreme Court reduced Lebedev’s sentence to time served and said he could be free by Friday, months before his previous sentence was up. But the court did not drop the conviction, or the demand that Lebedev and Khodokovsky pay some $500 million in taxes owed.
Human rights groups considered the businessmen to be political prisoners, and president Vladimir Putin’s pardons of Khodorkovsky and high-profile inmates like the protest group Pussy Riot last month were widely seen as a strategic move to allay international criticism ahead of the Feb. 7 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.