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Former Head of Yukos Subsidiary Paroled

The ex-head of a subsidiary of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's now-defunct energy giant Yukos has been freed on parole by a Tomsk court, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

Sergei Shimkevich, a deputy of the Tomsk Region's legislature at the time of his detention, was convicted of being part of an organized group that stole and laundered almost 6 billion rubles ($187 million) from Tomskneft, the Yukos subsidiary that he led, and sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2010.

A year later, he was convicted of using phony contracts to siphon another 462 million rubles ($1.4 million) out of Tomskneft, sentenced to one more year in jail and fined 1 million rubles, by which point a Moscow court had already reduced his first sentence by one year.

Shimkevich professed his innocence in court and was considered a political prisoner by some opposition activists, but parole is only granted to convicts who fully confess to the crimes for which they were convicted.

He is at least the second former top manager at Yukos to be released on parole. Vladimir Pereverzin, once deputy head of Yukos' foreign debt department, was freed early last year thanks to newly reduced punishments for money laundering.

But the company's two highest-profile prisoners — Khodorkovsky, once Yukos' CEO and Russia's richest man, and his business partner Platon Lebedev — remain jailed, following convictions in 2005 for fraud and in 2010 for embezzlement and money laundering, charges they deny.

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