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Putin to pardon oil tycoon

4 years ago62 views

reuters

Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to pardon former political opponent and oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Putin made the surprise announcement during a news conference Thursday saying Khodorkovsky had asked for a pardon in a written letter because his mother was ill.

Khodorkovsky was jailed in 2003 on tax evasion and fraud charges. His imprisonment became a symbol for what critics say is the Kremlin's abuse of the courts for political ends.

Political analyst say the move was Putin's attempt to silence his critics in the West- and just in time too as Russia is set to host the Winter Olympics in 2014.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICAL ANALYST MARIA LIPMAN, SAYING:

"At a time when he is referred to as bad, as an evil leader, as a leader of Russia which is launching a campaign of expansion, a leader who is near imperialistic, he suddenly attracts the whole world to himself as a merciful leader who can pardon."

Putin also said two members of the

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