Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced his decision to pardon Khodorkovsky, at one time one of the country’s most prominent business figures.
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Mikhail Khodorkovsky In 2001
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, at one time one of Russia’s wealthiest men and for the last ten years one of it most famous prisoners is looking likely to be released from prison in the very near future.
Khodorkovsky, was head of Yukos, an international conglomerate before his arrest in 2003 and subsequent conviction for fraud in 2005, with a later charge of embezzlement and money laundering imposed on him in 2010 which brought an additional jail term extending his prison sentence to 2017.
However it now appears that if Putin keeps his promise, hopefully Khodorkovsky will soon be a free man, hopefully even before the end of 2013.
Putin hinted very strongly that he was considering giving a positive response to Khodorkovsky’s request for a pardon, which, if it does come to pass, will be in the very near future.
When questioned on whether Khodorkovsky could face further charges, or even a third trial, President Putin apparently remained totally non-committal and refused to be drawn when questioned. Putin did admit that Khodorkovsky having spent more than 10 years in prison is a serious term.
In the aftermath of Putin’s promise, Khodorkovsky’s lawyers came out with a statement, denying that they had asked for a pardon, although there has been considerable pressure applied on Putin, particularly from Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s son Pavel.
Under the a recently introduced amnesty law, a number of high profile “ political prisoners” are due to be pardoned and released from Russian prisons, among them members of the female punk band Pussy Riot, as well as a number of activists from the Greenpeace party, who were arrested after protesting against the effects of ecological damage caused by drilling for oil in the Arctic region of Russia.
Even a few days ago, many observers in Russia were convinced that Khodorkovsky was “too hot a potato” to be granted amnesty, with his case regarded as having too many political undertones given the personal nature of criticism of Putin’s regime ahead of the tycoon’s arrest and his alleged backing of political parties holding political views more liberal than that of Putin.
While the promise has been made, the timing of Khodorkovsky’s release remained unclear, as does the legal basis for the pardon.
In 2004, Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia and one of the richest people in the world, ranked 16th on Forbes list of billionaires.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky sprang to prominence in the business world as a Moscow student under Mikhail Gorbachev’s heady days of glasnost and perestroika during the Nineteen Nineties.
While only in his thirties Khodorkovsky succeeded in established a number of successful industrial concerns from the privatization of former state assets under the umbrella of his holding company Yukos , particularly based around the development of oil fields in Siberia, under the free hand of Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin.