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Putin could pardon Khodorkovsky if elected president

© RIA Novosti . Ilia Pitalev / Go to the photo bankMikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Sputnik International
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he may pardon former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky if he is elected president next March.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he may pardon former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky if he is elected president next March.

Asked whether he would pardon Khodorkovsky if he returns to the Kremlin, Putin said: “If he writes [an appeal for pardon], I will consider the request.”

Putin stressed that the jailed oligarch must recognize his guilt in order to be pardoned, something Khodorkovsky had said he would never do.

Earlier on Thursday, another presidential candidate, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, promised to release Khodorkovsky if he wins the presidential race.

Commenting on Prokhorov’s statement, Putin said that “Mikhail Dmitriyevich [Prokhorov], if he takes this post, will have to act within the law which says that a person convicted by court must write an appeal for pardon, or in other words recognize his guilt, something that Khodorkovsky has not done yet.”

Khodorkovsky's lawyer Mikhail Shmidt said the president does not necessarily need a formal appeal to pardon a prisoner.

"Many people have a false notion that a pardon appeal and repentance are necessary. This is not so," he said. "The president is obliged to consider pardon appeals, but, under the constitution the president has the right to pardon regardless of whether a formal appeal was filed."

Shmidt added that if he believed in Putin's readiness to pardon Khodorkovsky, he would beg the jailed oligarch to write the appeal.

Khodorkovsky, once seen as a potential threat to Putin, has been in jail on charges of fraud and tax evasion since 2003. He was convicted in a second trial last December, and is currently due for release in 2016.

A documentary showing the history of the Khodorkovsky affair was recently released in only a few theaters in Moscow and other cities in Russia but many cinemas refused to show it.

 

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