MOSCOW, December 15 (Itar-Tass) — Vladimir Putin has promised to consider the issue of pardoning the former oil business tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is serving a prison term on charges of tax evasion and financial fraud.
This may happen in case Putin is elected President of the Russian Federation next March.
For the pardoning to be considered, however, Khodorkovsky will have to file a plea, which means he will have to admit a criminal offense on his part.
Putin said this in a major televised question-time show Thursday in response to a statement by the billionaire businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, 46, who also plans running for presidency and who said he will pardon Khodorkovsky.
“Well, birds of a feather,” the Prime Minister said referring to the two businessmen. “But generally speaking, Mikhail Dmitrievich /the second word being Prokhorov’s patronymic – Itar-Tass/ is a dignified man who works efficiently. Incidentally, he is an arts patron and he really helps many people in the sphere of arts and education and he doesn’t make a public show of his philanthropy.”
Putin admitted that the realm of presidential powers includes the pardoning of criminals, but he noted in this connection the presidents’ duty “to stay within the boundaries of law”.
“And the law says that a person, whom the court sentenced to a term in jail and who is kept in a penitentiary, should file a written plea for pardoning or in other words recognize his or her guilt – and that’s something Khodorkovsky has not done to date,” he said.
If the man does file the plea, the President will then be able to do it. But if there is no plea, then there will be no legal grounds for pardoning, Putin indicated.
The reporters asked for clarifications about Putin’s own actions in this case if he gets to the presidential office.
“If he /Khodorkovsky/ turns the plea in I’ll certainly consider it, but first I should be elected President,” Putin said.