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Putin to pardon jailed tycoon Khodorkovsky

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 19, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he will pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a surprise decision that will let his top foe and Russia's formerly richest man out of prison after more than a decade.

The move, along with an amnesty for the two jailed members of a punk band and the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace ship, appears designed to assuage international criticism of Russia's rights record ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin's pet project.

Putin waited until just after his annual news conference to make the announcement, dropping the biggest news of the day after journalists had already peppered him with questions, including one about Khodorkovsky's fate, in a four-hour marathon.

Putin said that Khodorkovsky, who is set to be released in August 2014, had submitted an appeal for pardon, something he had refused to do before.

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