Europe

Khodorkovsky's business partner Lebedev set free

MOSCOW (AP) — A business partner of former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released from prison Friday after spending more than 10 years behind bars.

The release of Platon Lebedev came a month after Khodorkovsky was unexpectedly freed after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin. A court ruled Thursday that Lebedev's sentence should be reduced to time served.

Both men were arrested in 2003 in a tax evasion case seen as revenge for Khodorkovsky challenging Putin's power in the early years of his presidency. They had been scheduled for release later this year.

The federal penitentiary service said Lebedev was freed late Friday from a prison in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region. In a post on Khodorkovsky's website, Lebedev's lawyer Vladimir Krasnov said Lebedev was in a car on his way to Moscow, traveling with his son and daughter. They were expected to reach Moscow by Saturday morning, the lawyer said.

Khodorkovsky, who was flown directly to Germany upon his release, has said he will not return to Russia because of a back tax claim that could be used to prevent him from leaving again. Lebedev's plans weren't yet known.

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