MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) – Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was released from prison on Friday on a presidential pardon, said he had asked Vladimir Putin for clemency due to family circumstances.
“I turned to the Russian president on November 12 with a request for a pardon in connection with family circumstances, and I am happy with the positive decision,” Khodorkovsky said in a statement posted on his website.
“The issue of admission of guilt was not raised,” said Khodorkovsky, who flew to Germany after his release.
Putin told reporters on Thursday that he decided to sign the pardon after receiving a request for clemency from Khodorkovsky, citing his mother’s deteriorating health.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest person, said in his statement that he was looking forward to a meeting with his parents, wife and children.
“I am looking forward for an opportunity to celebrate the approaching holidays within my family,” he said.
He also expressed thanks to all those who had supported him throughout his legal troubles.
“I am very much waiting for the minute when I can hug those close to me and personally shake hands with all my friends and colleagues,” he said.
The Kremlin released a decree on Friday that said a pardon for Khodorkovsky, 50, had been granted on humanitarian grounds and would be implemented immediately.
Khodorkovsky had not hidden his concern over the health of his parents, and in an article in The New York Times last month detailing his mother’s battle with cancer since the age of 45 wrote that, "my mother is now nearly 80 years old and again facing cancer and more surgeries."
The location of Khodorkovsky’s mother was not immediately clear, but the Dozhd television channel reported that she was currently staying at a school for orphans in the Moscow Region that was built with money from Khodorkovsky’s former oil company, Yukos.
Khodorkovsky’s father, Boris, speaking on the phone from the Moscow Region, told The Associated Press news agency that he and his wife were intending to fly to Germany on Saturday.
Khodorkovsky had spent more than a decade in prison following his arrest on a Siberian runway in 2003 and two subsequent convictions for fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement.
The tycoon drew unwelcome attention from the authorities early on in Putin’s first presidential term by actively supporting and funding opposition parties.
Khodorkovsky has always maintained his innocence, claiming that the cases against him were Kremlin retribution for political and business ambitions. The government maintains that the matter was purely criminal.