News / Europe

    Khodorkovsky Arrives in Germany Following Release From Russian Prison

    Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (r) welcoming Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky at the airport in Berlin-Schoenefeld, Dec. 20, 2013.
    Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (r) welcoming Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky at the airport in Berlin-Schoenefeld, Dec. 20, 2013.
    VOA News
    Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrived in Berlin on Friday after being released from prison. He left Russia just hours after President Vladimir Putin signed a pardon for him - ending more than 10 years of detention for tax evasion and embezzlement.

    The former Yukos oil company head - viewed by many as a political prisoner - was greeted by former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport.

    In a statement following his release Friday, Khodorkovsky said he asked the Russian president on November 12 to pardon him in connection with "family circumstances" and that he was "glad" the response was positive.

    "The issue of admission of guilt was not raised," Khodorkovsky said in the statement.

    Russia's federal prison service said Friday that Khodorkovsky had sought permission to travel to Germany, where his mother had been receiving medical treatment.

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, are escorted to a court room in Moscow, 27 Dec 2010Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, are escorted to a court room in Moscow, 27 Dec 2010
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    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, are escorted to a court room in Moscow, 27 Dec 2010
    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, are escorted to a court room in Moscow, 27 Dec 2010
    Putin said earlier Friday on his website that he was pardoning the longtime Kremlin critic for humanitarian reasons.

    The White House welcomed the pardon, calling it a "humanitarian gesture" and "a positive development for Russian society." But National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden also voiced concern about what she described as "politically motivated investigations and selective prosecutions in Russia."

    Putin first announced his intention to free Khodorkovsky during a lengthy news conference Thursday that covered a wide range of topics. At that time, he said Khodorkovsky had, for the first time, requested a pardon because his mother is ill.  

    Putin also said two members of the Pussy Riot punk rock band will be freed on amnesty.

    His announcements come ahead of Russia hosting the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February. The lead-up to the event has put Russia's human rights record in the spotlight.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    December 20, 2013 8:55 PM
    The entire world should Boycott the Russian Olympics because of Russia arming the criminal Bashar al Assad to kill his own people.
    This would be a great thing if noone showed up!!! Im serious!

    by: Doug from: Canada
    December 20, 2013 7:56 PM
    I hope that he decides to remain in Germany and seek
    political asylum for Russia under Putin is going slowly back to
    the old soviet days of unjustly persecuting its citizens

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