Vladimir Putin will sign a pardon for jailed ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky “in the nearest time,” the Russian president announced following a large media conference in Moscow.
“He has spent over ten years in confinement – which is a serious term, I believe,” Putin told journalists on Thursday after a four-hour Q&A session with national and foreign media.
In the pardon plea that Khodorkovsky “has written just recently,” he referred to “humanitarian circumstances,” the president said. “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.”
Under Russian law, convicts are entitled to seek a pardon, Putin said. However, Khodorkovsky did not do so until recently, when an appeal was finally submitted, he said.
The comment was made after the annual press-conference with over 1,300 journalists present. Just as the president was preparing to leave the conference hall, one of reporters asked him about Khodorkovsky.
Earlier in the press conference, Putin was asked about the possibility of a third criminal case being brought against the former Yukos CEO. The president said he did not want to comment as he had nothing to do with it. He added, though, that he saw no feasibility in a third case going forward.
Khodorkovsky’s mother, Marina, told RT that she last spoke with her son “through a glass wall” back in August, when she came to see him in jail.
“So, we don’t know about his reaction [to the news],” she said. “[Prisoners] are allowed to make phone calls once a week, on Saturdays. So, I can’t learn about his response before Saturday.”
She said Putin’s decision came as a surprise to her.
“It was a bolt from the blue for me, because I was totally unaware about [the request for pardon],” Khodorkovskaya said. “I don’t know if he asked for a pardon. I know absolutely nothing about that.”
Answering RT’s question about whether Putin’s decision was partly linked to the state of her health, Marina said: “I would like to believe that he still has some humane feelings.”
Pardon plea takes Khodorkovsky’s lawyer by surprise
Meanwhile, Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant told the RAPSI news agency that he “did not apply [for a pardon] and we have no information that anyone has applied on his behalf recently.”
He added: “We don’t have such information, even though pardon pleas have regularly been submitted by various persons” during all the years of Khodorkovsky’s confinement. Later in the day, the legal team departed for an urgent meeting with their client.