|Former Yukos tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is escorted by policemen at a court in Moscow, capital of Russia, Dec. 27, 2010. Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty on Monday by the court in his second trial on charges of embezzlement, Russian local news reports said. (Xinhua File Photo)|
MOSCOW, Dec. 19 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he would soon pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former CEO of the oil company Yukos.
"He has spent more than 10 years in jail and that's a serious term. I think we should take a decision on pardoning him," Putin told reporters after his annual major press conference.
Yukos, founded in 1993, declared bankruptcy in 2006 and disbanded in 2007. Khodorkovsky, together with former co-owner Platon Lebedev, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for fraud and money laundering.
Putin said Khodorkovsky recently wrote a pardon petition citing humanitarian reasons, such as his sick mother. A decree on pardoning Khodorkovsky would be signed "in the near future," Putin added.
Khodorkovsky's mother, Marina Khodorkovskaya, told Interfax news agency she supported her son's decision to ask for a pardon.
The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, granted amnesty to about 25,000 people Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.
But the amnesty only applies to certain convicts, which does not include those who have committed serious economic crimes like Khodorkovsky.
According to Mikhail Abyzov, Russian Minister for Open Government Affairs, pardoning the former oil tycoon will help improve the investment climate in Russia.
"This is an important signal to all those saying the authorities are tightening the screws," he told local media.