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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with reporters in Moscow for his annual Q&A press conference, in which he covered several key topics related to Russia that have made headlines around the world. He said that he would pardon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the former CEO of Yukos Oil, who has spent a decade in prison. He also said that he envies U.S. President Barack Obama because of the spying scandal.
Putin said that Khodorkovsky recently made an appeal for his release based on humanitarian reasons, citing his mother’s poor health, reports The New York Times. He didn’t exactly set a timetable for the businessman’s release, saying that he would be pardoned soon.
“He has already spent more than 10 years in confinement — this is a serious punishment,” Putin said.
As the Washington Post notes, Khodorkovsky was arrested for tax evasion and fraud, but many believe that he was really arrested for voicing political opposition to Putin.
Putin’s remarks did take many by surprise, even Khodorkovsky's own lawyers. They said they were not aware of their client’s plea for clemency and that it would only be legal if they have a meeting with him.
According to RT.com, Putin was asked how Edward Snowden, who is staying in Russia, has changed his relationship with the U.S. and Obama.
“I envy Obama because he can spy on his allies without any consequences,” Putin said. The former KGB agent added, “There is nothing to be upset about and nothing to be proud of, spying has always been and is one of the oldest professions.” He also praised Snowden, who leaked details on spying programs run by the NSA. He said Snowden had a “noble cause.”
Putin did say that the Russian government is not working with Snowden.
image: Wikimedia Commons