Mikhail Khodorkovsky in June 2011
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Putin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky released from jail

The former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been freed from jail following a decree from President Putin pardoning his former political opponent.

Officials say he was released on humanitarian grounds because his mother is ill.

Mr Khodorkovsky made a fortune in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and used the wealth of his Yukos oil company to enter politics.

He was jailed for tax evasion and theft after funding parties opposed to Mr Putin.

The BBC's Oleg Boldyrev reporting from Moscow said many Russians would be sceptical that he was released purely on humanitarian grounds.

Analysts say Mr Putin may be trying to ease international criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of February's Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

  • 20 Dec 2013
  • From the section Europe
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