Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he will soon pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The former Yukos oil company chief still has eight months left to serve of a more than 10-year jail sentence.
Speaking to journalists after his annual press conference in Moscow, the president said:
“Just recently he wrote and asked me for a pardon. He has spent more than 10 years behind bars, it’s a serious punishment. His mother is ill..and for humanitarian reasons, I think taking everything into consideration, the decision should be made, and soon the decree granting him a pardon will be signed.”
Khodorkovsky’s main lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, denied his client had asked for a pardon but stressed that was not required.
Once Russia’s richest man, Khordorkovsky was jailed in 2005. He has been convicted of crimes including fraud, theft and money laundering, in two trials.
Many of the initial charges against him, arose after Khordorkovsky began to openly criticise the Kremlin.
Many of Putin’s opponents consider Khordorkovsky a prisoner of conscience.