Europe

Freed Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky reunited with family

  • 22 December 2013
  • From the section Europe

Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been reunited with his family after being freed from jail.

Mr Khodorkovsky met his son and his parents after spending his first night of freedom in a decade, at a hotel in the German capital Berlin.

President Vladimir Putin surprised Russians this week by announcing a pardon for Mr Khodorkovsky.

The former head of the now defunct oil giant Yukos funded opposition parties and publicly sparred with Mr Putin.

At the time of his arrest Mr Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man.

Confirming he had requested a pardon because his mother is suffering from cancer, Mr Khodorkovsky stressed he had not admitted guilt and made reference to those who have been "unjustly convicted and continue to be persecuted".

Convicted of tax evasion and theft, Mr Khodorkovsky had been in prison since 2003 and was due to be released next August.

Mr Khodorkovsky's eldest son Pavel flew from the United States, where he lives, to Germany upon hearing the news of his father's release.

Spokeswoman Olga Pispanen confirmed they were together in Berlin. The father is staying at the city's five-star Adlon Hotel.

Mr Khodorkovsky's elderly parents, Marina and Boris, arrived from Russia to meet him later on Saturday.

Mr Khodorkovsky left the penal colony where he was being held, in the Karelia region of north-western Russia close to the Finnish border, early on Friday afternoon.

Upon his release, he was given a passport and the necessary documents to allow him to fly from St Petersburg to Berlin, where he was greeted by former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

His private flight to Berlin was organised by Mr Genscher, who had spent years lobbying for his release, meeting Mr Putin twice to discuss the issue.

An aide to the former foreign minister, political scientist Alexander Rahr, told Germany's Spiegel magazine he believed Mr Genscher had kept in close contact with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the Khodorkovsky case.

Picture taken on November 27, 2012 shows Pavel Khodorkovsky, president of the Institute of Modern Russia and son of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, speaking during a discussion on human rights and democracy in Russia at the George Washington University's School of International Affairs in Washington.
Pavel Khodorkovsky runs a pro-democracy institute in the US

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