Khodorkovsky Says Won't Fund Russian Opposition
MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) – Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was released from prison on Friday on a presidential pardon, said Sunday he will not fund Russia's opposition.
"It would be distressing if people – I mean opposition representatives – wrongly perceived me in the capacity of a sponsor that Yukos [oil company] was," Khodorkovsky, former head of the dismantled oil giant Yukos, said at a meeting with journalists in Berlin.
"I have no such financial ability," he said as cited by Ekho Moskvy radio.
"I understand better than opposition figures how dangerous it would be for them first and foremost," the ex-tycoon added.
Earlier this year, Khodorkovsky said he would not go in for politics and would not fight to return Yukos assets, which were bought by state oil company Rosneft following tough measures against Yukos by tax authorities after Khodorkovsky's arrest in 2003 and the oil company's subsequent bankruptcy.
He also told journalists he would not return to business but would rather focus on "repaying debts to people who are worse off" than him.
The Kremlin released a decree on Friday that said a pardon for Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest person, had been granted on humanitarian grounds and would be implemented immediately. Putin told reporters Thursday he decided to sign the pardon after receiving a request for clemency from Khodorkovsky, citing his mother's deteriorating health.
Upon release, the former oil tycoon immediately headed for Germany where he later met with his family.
Khodorkovsky had not hidden his concern over the health of his parents, and in an article in The New York Times last month detailing his mother's battle with cancer since the age of 45 wrote that, 'my mother is now nearly 80 years old and again facing cancer and more surgeries.'
Khodorkovsky had spent more than a decade in prison following his arrest on a Siberian runway in 2003 and two subsequent convictions for fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement.
The tycoon drew unwelcome attention from the authorities early on in Putin's first presidential term by actively supporting and funding opposition parties.
Khodorkovsky has always maintained his innocence, claiming that the cases against him were Kremlin retribution for political and business ambitions. The government maintains that the matter was purely criminal.
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