Hours after being pardoned by Putin, Mikhail Khodorkovsy, 50, is flying to Germany to see his ailing mother. According to the BBC Khodorkovsky has been released on the orders of President Putin. He was behind bars since 2003.
Once the richest man in Russia, Khodorkovsky was sentenced for tax evasion, stealing oil and money laundering. According to the political analysts the real reason for the oil magnate’s imprisonment was his financially support of Putin’s political opponents.
Kremlin says Khodorkovsky was released on humanitarian grounds. He asked for clemency because of his mother’s illness. The political commentators view Khodorkovsky seeking pardon highly unlikely as it would amount to accepting crimes he did not commit.
Others released on Friday include two members of the Pussy Riot Band and the Greenpeace activists held by Kremlin for protesting on an Arctic oil rig.
In total 20,000 prisoners were released under this amnesty. Majority of them are minors, pregnant women, veterans, and disabled people.
Political commentators hold this amnesty by Putin as a step to ease international criticism of Russia’s human rights abuse ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada