Vladimir Putin announced yesterday he would pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, after more than a decade behind bars in an apparent bid to repair the country’s battered image in the west.
弗拉基米尔•普京(Vladimir Putin)昨天宣布，他将赦免坐牢逾10年的俄罗斯前首富米哈伊尔•霍多尔科夫斯基(Mikhail Khodorkovsky，见右图)。此举显然意在修复俄罗斯在西方的不佳形象。
The president’s gesture comes as Russia tries to deflect criticism of its human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics, which it will host in Sochi in February. On Wednesday, Russia’s parliament approved an amnesty bill that is expected to help free 2,000 people from prison.
The timing of Khodorkovsky’s release remained unclear, while confusion surrounded the legal basis for the pardon. Questions also remain over whether officials are planning new charges against the Russian businessman – who was due to be released next year – though Mr Putin suggested this was unlikely.
In his annual press conference, Mr Putin said Khodorkovsky had recently written to request a pardon. “[He] has already spent more than 10 years in prison. That is a serious punishment. In the letter he makes reference to humanitarian reasons. He has a sick mother. And I believe that we can soon make the decision and sign a decree granting him amnesty.”
Ilya Ponomarev, a liberal MP, called Khodorkovsky’s impending release the best news in several years, but noted that Mr Putin’s recent amnesty offer had largely extended to prisoners who were well-known in the west, such as punk band Pussy Riot and members of Greenpeace.
自由派议员伊利亚•波诺马廖夫(Ilya Ponomarev)将霍多尔科夫斯基出狱称为几年来的最佳新闻，但他提到，普京近期的大赦主要针对西方熟知的犯人，如朋克乐队Pussy Riot和绿色和平组织(Greenpeace)成员。
“These are symbolic gestures for the international community [ahead of the Olympics]”, he said. The majority of protesters who were arrested on May 6, 2012 had not received amnesty, nor had opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov and his deputy, Mr Ponamarev said. “That is a clear sign that internally the policy will continue as is. But for the external community some gestures will be made.”