Putin pardons Khodorkovsky after 10 years in jail

Putin pardons Khodorkovsky after 10 years in jail

Putin pardons Khodorkovsky after 10 years in jail

Russia's most famous prisoner and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky reportedly walked out of jail today after spending more than 10 years behind bars, following a surprise pardon by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin pardoned Russia's former richest man today, a day after stunning the country by saying the ex-tycoon asked for clemency on humanitarian grounds as his mother was ill.

"Guided by humanitarian principles, I decree that Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky...should be pardoned and freed from any further punishment in the form of imprisonment," said the decree signed by Putin and published by the Kremlin.

Less than a half hour later, Khodorkovsky, 50, walked out of his prison colony in the town of Segezha in the Karelia region of northwestern Russia, the Interfax news agency reported citing a local security source.

But Khodorkovsky's lead lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said he could neither confirm nor deny this information and prison officials declined immediate comment.

The Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment (FSIN) which runs Russia's prisons issued a statement confirming that Khodorkovsky's sentence had been terminated but not explicitly confirming he had walked free from the camp.

In line with Putin's decree, Khodorkovsky "has been freed from the further serving of his punishment in the form of imprisonment," it said in a statement on its website.

What role Khodorkovsky will play in Russia after his release is unclear, but it is appears certain that Putin would never had allowed his freedom if he was seen as a threat.

Khodorkovsky's 79-year-old mother Marina, who was caught off guard by Putin's announcement, said she was still trying to fathom what was happening.

"It has not sunk in yet," Marina Khodorkovskaya said in remarks broadcast on state television. Speaking in a shaky voice, she said she was taking sedatives to calm her nerves."God, he had mercy," exclaimed mass-circulation newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets in a banner headline.

'Secret services met Khodorkovsky'

Khodorkovsky had been due to be released in August 2014 but Russian prosecutors earlier this month raised the threat of a third trial for the former tycoon on money-laundering charges.Putin told reporters on last day that he saw no prospects for the third case.

The circumstances of the pardon also remained murky.

The former chief of the Yukos oil company had repeatedly said he would not ask Putin for a pardon because it would be tantamount to admitting guilt. 

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