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Khodorkovsky In Switzerland After Leaving Berlin

Freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks at a news conference in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin on December 22.
Freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks at a news conference in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin on December 22.
By RFE/RL
Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has arrived in Switzerland from Berlin where he had been staying since his release from a Russian prison last month.

A spokesperson for Khodorkovsky said he and his wife traveled by train to Basel on January 5 to accompany their two sons back to school in Switzerland.

The statement said Khodorkovsky had not yet made any plans about permanent residency in Switzerland or anywhere else.

While traveling to Basel, Khodorkovsky reiterated that he wants to campaign for the release of Russian political prisoners.

"I think campaigning for the release of those who have been jailed without justification is the job of every ordinary citizen," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it has nothing to do with politics.”

Swiss authorities have granted him a three-month visa.

Khodorkovsky was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin on December 20 after spending more than ten years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. He flew to Berlin immediately after his release from a remote prison near the Arctic Circle.

Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia’s richest man, pleaded not guilty in his two trials. His conviction was widely seen in the West as political revenge by the Kremlin for his funding of the opposition.

Khodorkovsky was scheduled to be released in eight months, in August 2014. But reports say he also faced the threat of the authorities bringing a third criminal case against him, which could have prolonged his imprisonment.

Putin has described the early release as a humanitarian gesture, saying Khodorkovsky had sought a pardon because of the illness of his mother, who has received treatment in Germany.

Khodorkovsky has said he asked Putin for a pardon for family reasons -- but has denied suggestions this was tantamount to admitting guilt for financial crimes.

Some analysts have linked his release to an effort by the Kremlin to improve Russia’s image as world attention turns to the country for the Winter Olympic Games in February in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.


With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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