President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would soon pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who still has eight months left to serve of a more than 10-year jail sentence and is see by Kremlin opponents as a political prisoner.
"He has been in jail already more than ten years, this is a serious punishment," Putin told reporters after an annual news conference, saying that the former Yukos oil company chief had asked him for a pardon.
"He cites humanitarian reasons. His mother is ill, " Putin said. "I decided that with this circumstances in mind, it is necessary to take a decision, and in the near future a decree pardoning him will be signed."
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Khodorkovsky's main lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, denied his client had asked for a pardon but said that was not required.