Russian President Vladimir Putin released Kremlin critic and oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky today.
Khodorkovsky, a billionaire, was sent to a penal colony in Russia’s Far East in 2005.
Khodorkovsky was transferred last Saturday to standard penitentiary no.10 near the Chita region city of Krasnokamensk not far from the Chinese border. The city of 50,000 is home to one of the world’s biggest uranium processing plants, as uranium ore is mined in the vicinity. (Ria)
Khodorkovsky immediately flew to Germany after his release.
CNN International reported:
Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky has arrived in Germany after Russian President Vladimir Putin released him Friday following more than 10 years in prison, the German Foreign Ministry said.
Khodorkovsky’s son, Pavel, told CNN in a text message that he flew to Germany to meet his father.
In a statement following his release, Khodorkovsky said he asked Putin to pardon him on November 12, “and I am glad his decision was positive.” He further said “the issue of admission of guilt was not raised” in the discussion.
He went on to personally thank those who followed his case and supported him and said he was “constantly thinking of those who continue to remain imprisoned.”
“I am very much looking forward to the minute when I will be able to hug my close ones and personally shake hands with all my friends and associates,” he said. “I will welcome the opportunity to celebrate this upcoming holiday season with my family. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
Putin signed an amnesty decree for the former Yukos oil tycoon earlier in the day.
Putin’s signature came a day after he announced that he planned to pardon Khodorkovsky.
The oil magnate, who backed an opposition party, had been in prison since 2003 and was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion and fraud. He was due for release in 2014.