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MOSCOW, December 20 /ITAR-TASS/. The lawyer of former Yukos oil company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said she does not know if her client has written a petition to the president asking to pardon him.
"I'm currently Khodorkovsky's lawyer, but I know nothing about his writing a petition for pardon. Khodorkovsky did not mention it at our previous meeting or before," his lawyer Karina Moskalenko told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he planned to pardon the jailed business tycoon. "His over 10 years of imprisonment is a serious punishment," Putin told reporters after his annual big news conference, adding that he would grant Khodorkovsky's plea within the next few days.
According to the president, Khodorkovsky referred to humanitarian circumstances in his letter, such as his mother's illness.
In May 2005, Moscow’s Meshchansky Court found Lebedev and Khodorkovsky guilty under several articles of the Russian Criminal Code, including fraud and tax evasion and sentenced them to nine years in prison. Later the Moscow City Court reduced the term to eight years.
On December 30, 2010, the Khamovnichesky District Court sentenced Lebedev and Khodorkovsky to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering in a second criminal case.
Their sentences were later reduced to 11 years by the Moscow City Court presidium, while the Supreme Court cut the prison terms further by two months.
Lebedev is to be set free in May 2014 and Khodorkovsky in August 2014.
Putin told the Thursday news conference that he didn't know the details of the third case against Yukos. He said he did not see any prospects in this sense and that he did not understand that kind of case that might be. "I don't see anything dangerous for anyone there,” he said.
Well-informed sources later told Itar-Tass Tass that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were not suspects in the so-called third case against Yukos.
Secretary of United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov said "Khodorkovsky's petition is first of all an acknowledgment of his guilt." "Secondly, it dismantles the myth about the political motive behind the case as they had tried to present it," Neverov said.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said the president's decision to pardon Khodorkovsky would be humane, as the latter had already served his penalty.
Leader of the United Russia faction at the State Duma lower house of Russia's parliament Vladimir Vasilyev said the former Yukos CEO "has all chances to celebrate the New Year at home.