Free in Germany, Putin critic Khodorkovsky eyes future

Free in Germany, Putin critic Khodorkovsky eyes future

BERLIN - Kremlin critic and Russia's former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky prepared Sunday to address his future after being whisked to Germany upon his stunning release following a decade in jail.

The man who had been Russia's most famous inmate was reunited with his family in Berlin on Saturday after being pardoned a day earlier by President Vladimir Putin in what was widely read as a Kremlin effort to mute criticism of its dismal rights record ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in February.

The former tycoon, who was twice convicted of financial crimes his supporters say was Putin's revenge for financing the opposition, will address reporters near the symbolic Cold War location of Check Point Charlie, where foreigners used to cross the border between East and Wast Berlin.

Ahead of the 1200 GMT news conference, he is also scheduled to address a smaller group of reporters.

On Saturday, Khodorkovsky, 50, was finally reunited with his parents, who travelled to Berlin from Moscow, and with his eldest son Pavel, who lives in the United States.

During their first meeting with Khodorkovsky as a free man, his 79-year-old ailing mother Marina got out of a chauffeur-driven car, came up to her son and buried her face in his neck as he stroked her back, video footage of the reunion showed.

Then Khodorkovsky embraced his 80-year-old father Boris, and the three began talking, with the elder Khodorkovsky lighting up a cigarette, as friends and supporters looked on.

Khodorkovsky's extraordinary release was worked out behind the scenes with the German government and came about after negotiations between German former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and President Putin.

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