Platon Lebedev’s parole imperiled by lost pants

July 26, 2011

A famous actress, an admired newspaper editor and a former Duma deputy spoke in favor of parole for the business partner of onetime oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Tuesday, but officials at Prison No. 4 in the remote northern town of Velsk said Platon Lebedev did not deserve it.

Not only had he lost a pair of cotton prison pants, they said, but he has not admitted his guilt and remains convinced his sentence is harsh and unfair, according to an Interfax correspondent covering the hearing. Sometimes he is aloof toward other prisoners.

“How can you lose pants in prison?” callers to the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy demanded, arguing that they must have been stolen to undermine Lebedev’s case.

Khodorkovsky, who is in another labor camp, and Lebedev were arrested in 2003 and later found guilty on tax evasion and fraud charges widely considered to have been politically motivated. Their prison terms expire in 2016. The parole hearing concludes Wednesday.

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