In this undated file photo, Russian former oil tycoon Khodorkovsky listens to his business partner Lebedev as they stand in the defendants' cage before the start of a court session in Moscow
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Russia's top court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's jailed business partner, Platon Lebedev, whose term was due to end in May.But the Supreme Court also effectively sealed the exile of Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky, who was released last month after receiving a pardon from President Vladimir Putin, by upholding the state's $550-million (400-million-euro) tax claim against him.Khodorkovsky, the former chief of the Yukos oil firm who left Russia immediately after his sudden release, has said he will not be able to return as long as the tax claim remains in place.Khodorkovsky's defence team hailed Lebedev's release while calling the tax ruling a blow that will probably keep Khodorkovsky out of Russia over the long term.In a move that stunned Russia, Putin last month pardoned Khodorkovsky on humanitarian grounds and the tycoon was immediately flown out of the country.
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