Former Russian oligarch set for release from jail

Moscow, Dec 20 (IANS/ITAR -TASS) Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive officer of the now defunct Russian oil company Yukos, was set to be released from prison Friday after receiving a presidential pardon, his lawyer said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Friday afternoon pardoning Khodorkovsky, who was convicted of fraud and sent to jail in 2005 shortly before a court declared Yukos bankrupt.

The text of the Putin’s document pardoning Khodorkovsky said the decision had been taken based on the principles of humanism.

“Proceeding from the principles of humanism, I decree hereby to pardon the convicted Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky, born in 1963 in Moscow, and to relieve him of the continuation of imprisonment,” says the text of the presidential decree effective from the date of signing.

Vadim Klyuvgant, Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, said following the signing of the presidential decree, his client’s release from jail is imminent.

Putin told reporters after an annual press conference in Moscoqw Thursday that he was going to sign a petition on pardoning Khodorkovsky.

“Mikhail Borisovich was due to submit an appropriate document as required by law, and that document is a petition for pardon,” Putin said.

“He did not do it for quite some time but quite recently he did submit the paper. He spent more than 10 years in prison and that’s serious punishment”, he said, adding that Khodorkovsky cited his mother’s illness in the petition.

“I think that if we consider all these circumstances, a relevant decision can be taken and a decree on pardoning him will be signed shortly,” the Russian president said.