Freed from jail, Khodorkovsky reunited with family in Berlin

Freed from jail, Khodorkovsky reunited with family in Berlin

BERLIN - Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was reunited with family members in Berlin on Saturday, a day after he was released from a decade-long jail term during which he became one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics.

Khodorkovsky, 50, was released from a remote prison near the Arctic Circle on Friday after Putin pardoned him with the stroke of a pen. He immediately flew to Berlin, where he was joined by his relatives, including his elderly parents, Marina and Boris, on Saturday.

"My family is finally reunited and we're very, very happy to be together after the 10 years of separation," his son Pavel Khodorkovsky, who arrived from the United States, said outside the Adlon Hotel in the German capital.

"As you can imagine my father is going through a lot right now," he said.

Khodorkovsky, who had been in jail since his arrest in October 2003 on fraud and tax evasion charges, was convicted twice of financial crimes, to which he pleaded not guilty.

In an excerpt from the first on-camera comment to the media since his release, Khodorkovsky told Russian magazine The New Times in an interview that his family was allowed only a handful of overnight visits during the years he was in prison.

"There was an opportunity - three days, once per quarter, during four years out of the 10 - to spend nights in the visiting room," said Khodorkovsky, who looked composed and relaxed in a black turtleneck sweater.

Kremlin critics say Khodorkovsky angered Putin by funding opposition parties, questioning state decisions on oil pipeline policy, raising corruption allegations and fashioning himself as an enlightened, Western-style post-Soviet executive.

Supporters say the former Yukos oil company chief was jailed to curb political challenges to Putin, bring his oil assets under state control and warn other tycoons to toe the line.

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