Khodorkovsky Released from Prison after Pardon
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree pardoning jailed former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin said Friday, allowing for the 50-year-old’s release from prison after ten years behind bars.
"Guided by humanitarian principles, I decree that Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky... should be pardoned and freed from any further punishment in the form of imprisonment. This decree comes into force from the day of its signing," said the decree signed by Putin and published by the Kremlin.
Shortly afterwards, Russia’s Interfax news agency said Khodorkovsky had been released from the prison colony in the Karelia region of northwestern Russia.
Putin unexpectedly announced he planned to pardon Khodorkovsky after an annual news conference on Thursday, in a move seen aimed at easing international criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Russian president said Khodorkovsky had submitted an appeal for pardon, citing humanitarian circumstances due to his mother’s ill health, AFP reported.
Khodorkovsky had previously refused to sign a pardon request as he viewed it as an admission of guilt and his lawyers initially disputed Putin’s statement.
But according to Shaun Walker, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Moscow, it now appears a pardon appeal was in fact submitted.
“What we’re hearing this morning from sources is that Khodorkovsky was visited in prison by Russian officials and told firstly that his mother was rather ill and secondly that a new case was being prepared against him and was advised very strongly to sign this piece of paper asking for a pardon and he did indeed do that,” he said.
As the head of Russia’s largest oil producer, Yukos, Khodorkovsky was believed to be Russia’s richest man with a fortune estimated at $15 billion (€ 11 billion) at the time of his arrest in October 2003.