Khodorkovsky Says No Plans to Return to Russia
Published: December 23, 2013 (Issue # 1791)
Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was released Dec. 20 after a presidential decree ended his 10 years of imprisonment, said from Germany on Sunday that he would not return home for fear of being unable to leave again.
Khodorkovsky, whose release was reportedly facilitated by former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher during two years of talks with President Vladimir Putin, gave his first two news conferences in the Wall Museum in Berlin on Sunday.
Khodorkovsky’s appearance — just days after Putin shocked observers worldwide by unexpectedly announcing that the former Yukos CEO had appealed for pardon and would receive it “in the nearest future” — triggered a frenzy among journalists anxious to speak with him.
Putin’s announcement on Dec. 19 of Khodorkovsky’s imminent freedom came as a surprise even to the prisoner’s own lawyers, who said at the time that they had not heard anything about an appeal.
On Dec. 20, Putin signed the order pardoning Khodorkovsky and it immediately went into effect, freeing Khodorkovsky from the Segezha prison, located 1,200 kilometers northwest of Moscow.
The first news conference on Sunday was held for a small group of journalists and was not broadcasted live, while the second one was attended by dozens of journalists from various countries and was shown in Russia by Dozhd television.
The broadcast showed Khodorkovsky, dressed in a business suit, squeezing his way through a crowd of photographers with the help of two security guards.
Khodorkovsky looked confused throughout the 40-minute news conference, speaking timidly, softly and with deliberation.
Khodorkovsky, who was granted a one-year German visa, told journalists that he would not return home unless a Russian court overturned a ruling ordering him and his business partner Platon Lebedev to pay $550 million as part of their first conviction on fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion charges in 2005.
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