Russian oligarch freed after pardon from Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin has pardoned the ex Russian oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, releasing him from prison. The former oil tycoon had been denied freedom for ten years after being convicted of tax evasion and theft.
Mr Khodorkovsky wanted to turn his company, Yukos, into an international business. When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, he made a deal with the Russian oligarchs, which involved them keeping their wealth but staying away from politics.
Khodorkovsky – the former richest man in Russia – has been an open critic of the Russian president’s regime. He used his own money to fund the opposition and was regarded by the Kremlin as a political prisoner.
He has never pleaded guilty to the charges and claims he has been wrongly convicted after being unfairly prosecuted. He spent 10 years in the Segezha colony, close to the Finnish border and was due for release in August 2014.
He has been released after asking the Russian president for a pardon on family grounds, and it has since been confirmed that his mother is ill. Mr Khodorkovsky has refused to apply for clemency in the past few years, saying that him doing so would appear to be an admittance of guilt.
A few hours after his release, the former oil tycoon received his passport and documents and flew to Berlin, where his mother is receiving treatment.
It has been said by the president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, that Vladimir Putin has released Mr Khodorkovsky on humanitarian grounds. However, many believe that the release is due to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia and on improving their image in the West.
Mr Putin announced the pardon last Thursday, after a four-hour press conference in Moscow.