- Title: RUSSIA: Ex-tycoon Khodorkovsky has left prison - lawyer
- Date: 20th December 2013
- Summary: SEGEZHA, RUSSIA (DECEMBER 20, 2013) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) NIGHT SHOTS OF PRISON WHERE FORMER TYCOON MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY WAS JAILED POLICE ON STREET CAR PASSING BY TV CREW VARIOUS OF POLICEMEN CHECKING CARS CARS DRIVING ON STREET CARS PASSING BY TV CREWS
- Embargoed: 4th January 2014 12:00
- Location: Russian Federation
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Crime
- Reuters ID: LVA9PJKFYQ3BJRBTJQNSK1D77LO8
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- Story Text: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an opponent of Vladimir Putin, was released from prison in northwestern Russia on Friday (December 20) after being pardoned by the president, his lawyer said.
Vadim Klyuvgant gave no details about the release or the latest whereabouts of Khodorkovsky, who had been in jail for more than 10 years and was seen by Kremlin critics as a political prisoner.
"He has left the (prison) colony. That's all I can say," Klyuvgant, told Reuters by telephone.
Khodorkovsky was recently incarcerated in Penal Colony No. 7 at Segezha, an area once part of the Gulag system of labour camps which is located near the Finnish border, 300 km (200 miles) south of the Arctic Circle.
His mother, also speaking to Reuters by telephone on Friday, said she knew "absolutely nothing" about the whereabouts of her son.
Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned the 50-year-old former oil baron earlier on Friday.
Putin surprised Russians and by announcing on Thursday (December 19) that he would release a man he has long reviled because Khodorkovsky's mother was ill. The move is widely seen as a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics at Sochi in February.
A decree signed by Putin and distributed by the Kremlin took immediate effect. Its wording described the decision to pardon the 50-year-old, once the richest man in Russia, as having been "guided by the principles of humanity".
Putin had said at the end of a four-hour annual news conference on Thursday that Khodorkovsky asked for clemency.
The surprise announcement underlined Putin's confidence that he has reasserted his authority and is in full control of Russia after seeing off street protests.
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, gain control of his oil assets and warn other tycoons to toe the line.
His company, Yukos, was broken up and sold off, mainly into state hands, following his arrest at gunpoint on an airport runway in Siberia on fraud and tax evasion charges.
He became a symbol of what investors say is the Kremlin's abuse of the courts for political ends. The Kremlin denies this but Putin has singled Khodorkovsky out for bitter personal attacks and ignored many calls for his release.
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