Mikhail Khodorkovsky arriving at the courtroom in Moscow on May 17, 2011.(SAZONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mikhail Khodorkovsky Freed From Prison

Tycoon-turned-dissident jailed for 10 years until Putin’s surprise pardon

by
Stephanie Butnick
December 20, 2013
Mikhail Khodorkovsky arriving at the courtroom in Moscow on May 17, 2011.(SAZONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been freed after 10 years in prison, the result of longtime adversary Vladimir Putin’s sudden pardon yesterday—a move some are calling an attempt to improve Russia’s public image in advance of February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

While incarcerated on tax evasion and a host of other charges, many of them contradictory, Khodorkovsky—who Julia Ioffe profiled back in 2011, during his eighth year in prison—had gone from tycoon and Russia’s richest man to an noble dissident and symbol of the Kremlin’s authoritarian bent. What his release means for the larger picture of Russia’s political and social climate, though, remains to be seen.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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