Putin signs pardon for Khodorkovsky

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iol pic wld _RUSSIA-KHODORKOVSKY-_1220_11


Jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky waves as he stands in the defendants' cage before the start of a court session in Moscow in this 2010 file photograph. Picture: Denis Sinyakov/Files

Moscow -

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a pardon decree for jailed businessman and government critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin said on Friday.

In the decree, Putin says that he pardons Khodorkovsky for humanitarian reasons and that the measure takes effect on the day it is signed.

Putin announced on Thursday that he would grant a presidential pardon to Khodorkovsky after the former oil tycoon has sent him a request, citing that Khodorkovsy's mother is ill.

Khodorkovsky, who used to be one of Russia's richest men, has been in jail for more than 10 years after being convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement charges.

He has in the past refused to ask for a pardon, implying that it would mean an admission of guilt.

His lawyers, who were apparently surprised by Putin's announcement, have said that they won't comment on the pardoning before they have spoken with Khodorkovsky himself.

Khodorkovsky's mother, Marina Khodorkovskaya, said on Friday that lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant was on his way to visit her son in his prison colony in the north-western region of Karelia, the Interfax news agency reported. - Sapa-dpa

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