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MOSCOW, December 20. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement on pardoning head of the Yukos oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky is discussed by the majority of Friday’s issues of newspapers. The president told reporters about the forthcoming pardoning of the former head of Yukos when his annual “grand” news conference ended.
The Izvestia newspaper writes that by this news the president “extinguished all the four past hours of his conversation with the media.”
The Kommersant daily writes that according to an official version, Khodorovsky asked the president for pardon due to a serious illness of his mother. As such a petition automatically implies the recognition of lawfulness of all the court rulings against him, Mikhail Khodorkovsky will not only fail to get rehabilitation in Russia, but will also most likely lose the struggle for the Yukos property that he might launch abroad.
The prison term of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is expiring in 2014: he is currently scheduled to leave jail on Saturday, August 23. However, until recently the former Yukos head at the suggestion of his lawyers has been flatly refusing to admit his guilt and continued to actively appeal all court decisions on his case. On December 6, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexei Zvyagintsev said that several criminal cases were investigated against Mikhail Khodorkovky and that the cases had “realistic prospect of conviction.” However, on Thursday, Vladimir Putin told a news conference that he saw “no prospect” for the third Yukos case.
Yukos co-owner Platon Lebedev had not asked the president for pardon.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky is expected to be released before the New Year holidays.
No matter how Russians assess the Yukos case, the president’s decree of pardon will be “taken positively,” believes Director General of the VCIOM All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre Valery Fyodorov. As “the president is popular, his decisions will also have a bonus,” Kommersant quotes the expert as saying.
Director of the Centre of Political Information Alexei Mukhin told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper: “Strategically, this very scenario in which pardon will determine the end of Khodorkovsky’s prison term will be of benefit to the authorities.”
Russia’s Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach hopes that the expected Khodorkovsky’s pardon will positively affect Russia’s image in the eyes of investors, the RBC Daily writes.
“The pardon will also positively affect the moods of entrepreneurs,” Vice President of Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) NGO Nikolai Ostarkov believes.
IHS Global Insight political analyst Lilit Gevorgyan suggested that the West might positively assess the release of Khodorkovsky in the run-up to the Olympics: “The decision to pardon Khodorkovsky is especially important on the eve of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.”
Exchanges responded to the news with moderate growth, according to RBC Daily.
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