Putin Critic Khodorkovsky Reunited With Family After Pardon

Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 12:14 PM

 

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BERLIN — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil tycoon jailed for a decade after posing a challenge to Vladimir Putin, was reunited with his family in Berlin on Saturday, a day after being freed by presidential pardon.

Khodorkovsky, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was meeting with his son Pavel and his parents Marina and Boris, who had flown separately to the German capital to meet him, said Christian Hanne, Khodorkovsky's spokesman.

"Today is family day," Hanne told The Associated Press.

Khodorkovsky was released from prison Friday, hours after being pardoned by Putin, and immediately flown to Berlin on a private jet organized by former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. The 86-year-old veteran diplomat had spent years working behind the scenes to lobby Putin for Khodorkovsky's release.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Friday that he didn't know why Khodorkovsky chose to fly to Germany.

"That was his own decision. No one has dictated him anything," said Peskov, adding that Khodorkovsky was free to return to Russia whenever he wanted.

One reason why Khodorkovsky's chose to make his first destination Berlin could be that his mother has received medical treatment there in the past. Khodorkovsky is reportedly staying at Berlin's luxury Adlon Hotel, beside the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate and close to the British and American embassies.

The 50-year-old is expected to speak about his future plans at a news conference to be held Sunday at nearby Checkpoint Charlie — a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War that has now become a popular tourist destination.

Once Russia's richest man, the billionaire boss of the country's largest oil company, Yukos, was arrested in 2003 and charged with tax evasion. His current net worth is unknown.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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