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Putin To Pardon Ex-Yukos Oil Exec Mikhail Khodorkovsky

MOSCOW (UPI) — Former Yukos Oil chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, jailed for embezzlement and tax evasion and other charges, will be pardoned, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“He has spent over 10 years in confinement — which is a serious term, I believe,” Putin said Thursday after he finished a four-hour news conference with national and foreign media.

Putin said Khodorkovsky “just recently” wrote a pardon request, in which he referred to “humanitarian circumstances,” RT reported.

“His mother is ill. And I think that a decision can be made and the decree on the pardon will be signed in the nearest time.”

Once the richest man in Russia, Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to nine years in prison on embezzlement and tax evasion charges. His prison term was extended in 2010 after he was found guilty of a large-scale theft of oil and money laundering.

Asked about the possibility of a third criminal case being brought against Khodorkovsky, Putin said he did not want to comment because he had nothing to do with such a decision.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said a letter Putin recently received was signed by Khodorkovsky. By filing a request for a pardon, which prisoners may do in Russia, Khodorkovsky admitted guilt, the press secretary said.

Khodorkovsky’s mother, Marina Khodorkovskaya, told RT the decision “came as a big surprise for me, totally out of the blue. I know nothing about it.”

She said the last time she spoke in person with her son was “through a glass wall” in August, when she visited him in prison.

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