Monday, April 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky a free man

MOSCOW — In a few breathtaking hours, one-time oil baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky went from being a prisoner locked away for a decade in the remote depths of northern Russia to being a free man in Berlin. As he sped between those extremes, questions trailed behind.

Most prominently: Why Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to pardon the man who was once Russia’s richest and one of the few with both the boldness and resources to challenge him.

Putin said he decided to approve Khodorkovsky’s pardon application and let him walk free on Friday for humanitarian reasons — his mother is seriously ill. The way he announced it, in a scrum of journalists after his annual marathon news conference less than 24 hours earlier, had an air of spur-of-the-moment.

But there appears to have been considerable calculation behind it, and analysts saw it as a show of power and arrogance by the man who has dominated Russian politics since the turn of the millennium.

In the first burst of surprise after the pardon was announced, many speculated that Putin wanted to soften Russia’s baleful image in the countdown to the Winter Olympics, his signature project, which starts Feb. 7 in Sochi.

“Rubbish,” wrote Lilia Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow think-tank. “Putin has been all along demonstrating all signs that he does not care any more what the world is thinking of him. He has been showing the opposite: that he views world leaders as pathetic weaklings who can be ignored.”

Although Putin is hypersensitive to opposition and has launched a series of measures over the past year and a half that chill dissent, he appears to have calculated that 10 years as an inmate has tamed the 50-year-old Khodorkovsky.

“Putin understood that Khodorkovsky is not a revolutionary, that his priority goal for all of what remains of his life is the desire not to return to the place he was for the last 10 years,” wrote Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and former Kremlin insider.

Khodorkovsky’s arrest by special forces who stormed his plane at a Siberian airport and his subsequent trials were widely seen as revenge for defying Putin’s dictate that the country’s narrow circle of billionaire tycoons, dubbed “oligarchs,” stay out of politics. Behind bars, he became the leading symbol of anxiety about Russia’s questionable rule of law.

But despite becoming a much sought-after columnist in prison, writing for leading Russian media and corresponding with prominent Russian authors, Khodorkovsky often seemed overshadowed by new controversies — the imprisonment of art-punk provocateurs Pussy Riot, the arrest of Greenpeace activists, the passage of a law banning “gay propaganda” for minors.

Notably, during the four-hour news conference Thursday, Khodorkovsky’s name didn’t even come up, though one question was about the possibility of another trial related to his former Yukos oil company.

His release and arrival in Germany on Friday vaults him back into the spotlight. But Putin, who has built much of his tough image on denouncing “interference” from the West, is unlikely to worry much about criticism from afar and it is unclear if Khodorkovsky ever intends to return to Russia.

“I am very much waiting for the minute when I can embrace my nearest and personally shake the hands of all my friends and colleagues,” the former oil tycoon said in a short statement a few hours after his arrival.

He added a few details about the process that freed him, saying that he filed the pardon application on Nov. 12 and that the question of admitting guilt wasn’t raised.

Khodorkovsky also thanked former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who met him at the Berlin airport, for his “personal participation in my fate.”

A statement from Genscher’s office said he met Khodorkovsky while head of the German Council on Foreign Relations and agreed to a request from Khodorkovsky’s lawyers to try to help secure his release.

OBO Bettermann, a German energy company that provided the plane that flew Khodorkovsky to Berlin, said it offered it on Genscher’s request.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration welcomed Khodorkovsky’s pardon and release.

“The Russian government cannot nurture a modern economy without also developing an independent judiciary that serves as an instrument for furthering economic growth, ensuring equal treatment under law and advancing justice in a predictable and fair way, ” she said.

Putin’s announcement that clemency was imminent appeared to catch both the public and Khodorkovsky’s lawyers by surprise. His release was equally shrouded in mystery. Just hours before he was set free, Khodorkovsky’s lawyers and family said they still had no idea when he would be let out.

Khodorkovsky’s father, Boris, told The Associated Press that he and his wife Marina are in Moscow and will fly to Germany on Saturday.

Khodorkovsky’s second wife and three children live in the Moscow region. Pavel, his eldest son from his first marriage, has been campaigning on his father’s behalf and lives with his family in New York City.

Khodorkovsky was Russia’s richest man, worth billions of dollars, and the CEO of the country’s largest oil company, Yukos, when he was arrested in 2003 and charged with tax evasion.

During Putin’s first term as president, Khodorkovsky angered the Kremlin by funding opposition parties and also was believed to harbor personal political ambitions. His actions defied an unwritten pact between Putin and the country’s “oligarchs,” under which the government refrained from reviewing privatization deals that made the group enormously rich.

Khodorkovsky’s Yukos oil company was effectively crushed under the weight of a $28 billion back-tax bill and sold off. Most of it went to state oil company Rosneft, allowing the Kremlin to reassert control of the country’s oil business as well as stifle an inconvenient voice.

Khodorkovsky’s current net worth is unknown, but it’s likely, at most, a mere shadow of his one-time fortune.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Rodriguez musicians win big in Reno

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
 
Hundreds turn out for Kroc Easter Egg hunt

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1

Jelly Belly artist finds her work sweet

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Heroes for Hire event goes haywire

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Center offers baby mammal care class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police arrest 6 in alcohol sting

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

4-H Paper Clover Campaign starts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
9th Annual Peace Summit on calendar

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Tour past, present, future in Mountain View

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Best of the best compete at dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Event allows for safe medication disposal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Kids Fishing Derby to take place Saturday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Church offers document shredding

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Suisun City to host 3rd annual MS walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Club plans home garden tour in Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Local government meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Il Fiorello to host mushroom class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Silent movie night set in Rio Vista

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Street-sweeping dealership comes to Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

Networking event at Solano College

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
North Bay Pediatrics marks anniversary

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

Firm facilitates building lease in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
Weather for Monday, April 21, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

.

US / World

Bid, Dick, bid: ‘Dick and Jane’ artworks for sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bee colonies damaged after almond pollination

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Country music singer Kevin Sharp dies at age 43

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Sleeping girl killed after car drives into home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Recreation areas reopening after Yosemite fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Nurse in critical condition after stabbing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Delay in ferry evacuation puzzles maritime experts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Transcript of SKorea ship sinking: ‘We can’t move’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Opinion

Why Hillary? The public awaits her answer

By Ann McFeatters | From Page: A8

 
Local voices, important choices

By Rod Keck | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon for April 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Legislature critic is selective

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Knowledge, religion and the hard work of faith

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History for April 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My friend’s wife drinks too much, verbally abuses her husband

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes for April 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes for April 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
‘Capt. America’ tops box office for third week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

TVGrid April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

 
Sharks take 2-0 series lead with 7-2 win vs. Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Chavez gets 1st win, A’s complete sweep of Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NBA: Refs missed foul call in Warriors-Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Posey, Lincecum lead Giants to 4-3 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Young Clippers try to mature against Warriors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Westwood wins Malaysian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimenez closes with 67 to win Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kuchar rallies from 4 back to win RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prep baseball: Pair of 10-run innings powers Vikings to win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prizefighter Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Red Sox remember Boston Marathon victims

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Duncan scores 27 points, Spurs beat Mavs 90-85

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

James, Wade lead Heat past Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Nene dominates, Wizards rally past Bulls, 102-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Aldridge leads Portland over Houston 122-120 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Business

 
.

Obituaries

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
.

Comics

Pickles April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard Of Id April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C. April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard Of Id April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7