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President Vladimir Putin freed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Friday. Khodorkovsky had spent a decade in custody.
Putin announced the possibility of Khodorkovsky’s freedom only the prior day. Khodorkovsky was the former co-owner of the Yukos Oil Company. He was put on a helicopter at his labor camp and flown to St. Petersburg before being flown to Berlin in a private jet, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The freeing of Khodorkovsky was carried out very swiftly. Khodorkovsky's lawyers didn’t even arrive at the labor camp until after he had left and his mother who is currently in Moscow does not know of his arrival.
Khodorkovsky said in a statement, according to the Washington Post, "I would like to thank everyone who has followed the Yukos affair for all these years, and for the support you gave me, my family and all those who were unfairly convicted and those still being persecuted. I am really looking forward to the moment when I can hug my loved ones and personally shake hands with all my friends and colleagues."
Human rights activists are pleased with Khodorkovsky’s release but not with the manner in which it occurred. Svetlana Gannushkina, a board member of Memorial said in a statement, "I was already imagining how all opposition forces would rally around this living symbol of courageous and selfless resistance to the regime. But my romantic expectations were short-lived."