Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky calls for prisoner release
Freed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has called for the release of more political prisoners and said he hopes President Vladimir Putin will not be in power too long. He had eight months left of a 10-year sentence.
Freed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has called for the release of more political prisoners and said he hopes President Vladimir Putin will not be in power too long.
Khodorkovsky had eight months left to serve of a 10-year sentence when he was pardoned by Putin, and he urged Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, to follow Putin's example by freeing the country's opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
Khodorkovsky added: "You should not see me as a symbol that there are no more political prisoners in Russia. I'm asking you to see me as a symbol of the efforts of the civil society that could lead even to the release of those people whom nobody ever expected to see released."
Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, freed by a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin after 10 years in jail, said he would not go into politics or seek to regain assets of his former oil company, Yukos.
In an interview with Russian magazine The New Times, Khodorkovsky said there were no conditions attached to the pardon but said he had told Putin in a letter: "I do not intend to get involved in politics and do not intend to fight for the return of (Yukos) assets."
President Vladimir Putin announced the pardon yesterday and said he was acting out of "principles of humanity" because Khodorkovsky's mother was ill. His release gave a brief lift to the stock market.
A Russian government source told Reuters that freeing the country's best-known and potentially most powerful critic could deflect international complaints about Putin's human rights record before the Winter Olympics in Sochi in seven week's time.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been in jail since he was arrested in 2003 in what supporters say was part of a Kremlin campaign to punish him for political challenges to Putin, and an attempt to gain control of his oil assets and warn other tycoons to toe the line.
Once Russia's richest man as head of oil giant Yukos, he was convicted of grave financial crimes in two trials and his imprisonment has long been held up by foreign investors as evidence of the weakness of property rights and the rule of law in Russia.
Yukos was broken up and sold off after Khodorkovsky's arrest and its prize production asset ending up in the hands of state oil company Rosneft, now headed by Putin ally Igor Sechin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would soon pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who still has eight months left to serve of a more than 10-year jail sentence.
A lawyer for Khodorkovsky said however that the tycoon had not asked Putin for a pardon. Khodorkovsky was jailed on charges including theft and fraud but the president's opponents regard him as a political prisoner.