President Dmitry Medvedev said he can’t free Mikhail Khodorkovsky unless the imprisoned former Yukos Oil Co. owner asks for a pardon.
“Without an appeal, there can’t be any examination” of Khodorkovsky’s potential release, Medvedev, who will replace Vladimir Putin as prime minister next month, said in a televised interview today with major Russian channels.
Medvedev’s human rights council urged him to pardon Khodorkovsky, arguing in a legal recommendation that he can do so without the businessman formally requesting a presidential pardon, which involves admitting his guilt.
Khodorkovsky, 48, once Russia’s richest man, is serving 13 years in prison under two separate convictions for fraud, tax evasion and oil embezzlement that he says are retribution for funding opposition parties under then-President Putin. The government denies the accusations. Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint on the tarmac of a Siberian airport in 2003.