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Putin offers surprise pardon to Khodorkovsy, Pussy Riot, Shell 30

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Putin offers surprise pardon to Khodorkovsy, Pussy Riot, Shell 30

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In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is to pardon his political arch-enemy, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been imprisoned for the last 10 years.

Putin’s amnesty bill has been approved by parliament, and includes pardons for Pussy Riot and the Shell 30 environmental protesters.

It seems to be an attempt to restore lustre to Putin’s international image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“All this is happening at once, on the eve of the Olympics, which has probably played a role because now many leaders refuse to come to our country and Putin’s move today will soften the situation in the country ahead of the games,” said former Yukos lawyer Svetlana
Bakhima.

The pardons appeared to be splitting opinion on the streets of Moscow.

“Of course it’s all great, but Putin had to do it, you see? Otherwise the Olympics would have failed,” said one woman.

“He should stay in jail. He robbed Russia, so that’s why he should stay there,” said one man.

In 2003 Khodorkovsky owned the oil giant Yukos and was Russia’s richest man, but he came to grief when he challenged Putin for political power.