Russia frees Yukos's former lawyer

A Moscow court granted early parole to Svetlana Bakhmina, a former lawyer for the Yukos Oil company, jailed as part of prosecution of the company.

Svetlana Bakhmina, a mother of three, was halfway through a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion as deputy head of Yukos's legal department, and has spent most of the last three years in a prison camp in Mordovia, 600 kilometres from Moscow.

Ms. Bakhmina, 39, who already had two young sons, gave birth to a daughter in a prison hospital last November. 'The court took into consideration the fact that Bakhmina admitted her guilt, committed no rule violations during her time in prison and also that she has young children,' Judge Irina Vyrysheva said, according to the Interfax news service.

Earlier some media speculated that officials might be engineering Ms. Bakhmina's release in exchange for incriminating testimony against her former boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former owner of Yukos.

Mr. Golovkin said he was unsure whether Ms. Bakhmina would be called to testify in the second trial against Mr. Khodorkovsky.


April 22, 2009