Khodorkovsky Leaves Russia, Lands in Germany after Pardon
Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 50, is in Germany, where he arrived hours after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin and freed from a decade in jail.
Plans for the pardon were first announced by Putin Thursday, among other topics discussed at a major press conference that lasted for over 4 hours.
In the aftermath, Khodorkovsky confirmed he had asked the Russian President for a pardon due to "family circumstances" on grounds his mother is suffering from cancer, while Putin cited "the principles of humanity" as his motives.
On Friday, Khodorkovsky, who never admitted any quilt, left the penal colony in the Karelia region of northwestern Russia. He was also granted an international passport on his own request. After that the ex-tycoon took a flight to Germany.
The German Foreign Ministry later confirmed that Khodorkovsky had landed at Schoenefeld airport in Berlin on a flight from St Petersburg.
The German embassy in Moscow had facilitated his departure from Russia with the active intervention of former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who greeted in person the ex-inmate upon his arrival at the Berlin airport.
Khodorkovsky is believed to have been taken to Berlin's Adlon Hotel, which is besieged by reporters. His future plans remain unknown, amidst information his family was expected in Berlin as well.
Khodorkovsky, the former head of the now defunct oil giant Yukos, was once Russia's richest man and had used his wealth to fund opposition parties.
The news brought a marked increase in the Russian stock exchange, informed world agencies.
His sentence was to end in August, after the term was reduced to 10 years and 10 months.
The businessman, together with business partner Platon Lebedev, was held in prison after being convicted to tax evasion and embezzlement.
According to German political scientists, the decision to pardon Khodorkovsky will probably soften the tone of Western politicians to Moscow. It is also seen as a PR move on the part of Putin as many world leaders said they will not travel to Sochi for the upcoming Winter Olympics and will shun the Games.
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