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Free Platon Lebedev

On the heels of the Moscow Times op-ed, “A Year of Increased Graft and Deadly Disasters,” the Russian Supreme Court found the 2003 arrest of Platon Lebedev illegal on procedural grounds.

Before his politically motivated arrest on July 2, 2003 as part of a case against former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Lebedev was director of Group MENATEP, a holding company with diversified assets of $20 billion. Group MENATEP was the majority shareholder of Yukos.

Lebedev’s arrest and prosecution were widely perceived to have been a warning to Khodorkovsky, as well as a means for the government to facilitate the re-nationalization of Russia’s oil and gas industry. Lebedev’s ordeal has been replete with violations of the most basic human rights.

After his arrest in his hospital bed in July 2003, the denial of independent medical attention during the trial, and his sentence at a work camp in Russia’s inhospitable Arctic, this ruling will hopefully bring an end to Lebedev’s six year legal farce.

Now President Medvedev needs to make good on his talk of ending legal nihilism, battling corruption and respecting the rule of law by setting Platon Lebedev free.

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