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Putin Should Free Khodorkovsky From Prison, VTB’s Kostin Says

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin should free former Yukos Oil Co. billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Andrei Kostin, chief executive officer of state-run lender VTB Group, said in a BBC interview.

“It’s a difficult question,” Kostin said in a video clip posted on BBC’s website yesterday. “I think that probably enough is enough.” he said. “It would be useful for the president to release him.”

Khodorkovsky, 49, 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 parties opposed to Putin. The government denies the accusations. Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint on the tarmac of a Siberian airport in 2003.

Still, Kostin told the BBC that “you never forget the ‘Godfather’ book, which starts with, ‘Behind every great fortune there is a crime.’”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ksenia Galouchko in Moscow at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brad Cook at bcook7@bloomberg.net

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