21 Dec 2013

Khodorkovsky now in Germany

5:43 am on 21 December 2013

Former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrived in Germany on Friday after being freed from prison in Russia by President Vladmir Putin.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Photo: AFP (file)

Prison officials said Mr Khodorkovsky, 50, had requested travel papers to see his sick mother there.

Mr Putin earlier said he had signed the pardon on "the principles of humanity".

As the former head of the Yukos oil company, which is now defunct, Mr Khodorkovsky was once Russia's richest man. He was due to be released next August.

He left a penal colony where he was being held, in the Karelia region of north-western Russia, early on Friday afternoon. Interfax said he asked the Federal Prison Service for a passport for foreign travel.

Mr Khodorkovsky was sentenced to prison after being convicted of stealing oil and laundering money in 2010. He had been in prison since 2003.

The BBC reports the presidential pardon came after MPs on Wednesday backed a wide-ranging amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners.