MOSCOW (AFP) — Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky applied Wednesday for parole in the hope that President Dmitry Medvedev might prove more liberal than his predecessor, his lawyer said.
"Khodorkovsky's defence today in Chita asked that he be released on parole," Yury Schmidt said, referring to the east Siberian town where Russia's one-time richest man is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud.
Khodorkovsky, who says his imprisonment is politically motivated, is entitled to request parole as he has served over half of his sentence.
He decided to apply in the hope that he would get a better hearing under newly inaugurated Medvedev than predecessor Vladimir Putin, Schmidt said.
"We have much hope in the words of Medvedev on the independence of the judiciary," Schmidt said.
However, the head of the prison service in Chita told the Interfax news agency that he doubted the request would be successful.
"I have never come across such a thing," Yunus Amayev was quoted as saying. "To be granted parole people need to work, to behave well, not to violate the rules.... There is no other way."
Last year the head of the Russian prison service alleged Khodorkovsky had broken prison regulations four times.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was arrested in 2003 when his jet was stormed by armed police on a runway in Siberia.
The case was used by then president Vladimir Putin to assert his power over Russia's most influential tycoons and analysts say it marked the start of a rise in state control over the country's lucrative energy sector.
Earlier this month Medvedev said he would not consider an executive pardon for Khodorkovsky, saying the state should not interfere in the case.
Prosecutors in July announced new charges against Khodorkovsky, accusing him of laundering 28 billion dollars (18 billion euros).
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