Khodorkovsky's business partner may be freed in early March 2013

Ex-head of Group Menatep and former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky's business partner Platon Lebedev may be freed from prison in a six months and 24 days' time, on March 2 2013, Lebedev's defense attorney Vladimir Krasnov told Interfax.

"Lebedev may be freed on March 2 2013, if the ruling passed by the Velsk Court, is not appealed," he said.

An appeal may be filed within ten days.

A district court in Velsk reduced Lebedev's term by three years and four months, an Interfax correspondent reported.

Judge Viktor Ivanov announced that, "the defense lawyers' request has been granted partially and Lebedev's overall term has been reduced to nine years and eight months."

Reports said earlier that Lebedev was sentenced to 13 years in jail after two verdicts were handed down to him. Lebedev was arrested in July 2002.

Meanwhile, the defense team of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky will inform him of the Velsk District Court's decision to reduce the prison term of his business partner, Lebedev, so that Khodorkovsky decide whether to file a similar request.

"Khodorkovsky will receive this information. We will hold consultations and will make a decision on this issue," Khodorkovsky's lawyer Yury Shmidt said.

He declined to answer whether he would advise his client to file a request that a court reduce his prison term as well, noting that "this is a tactical move."

It was reported earlier on Wednesday that the Velsk District Court in the Arkhangelsk region had partially granted a request by Lebedev's defense lawyers by reducing his prison term by 3 years and 4 months. If the court ruling takes effect, Lebedev's lawyers believe he should be released on March 2, 2013.

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