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Freeing Khodorkovsky not dangerous: Medvedev

Former oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky would not pose a danger to society if he were released from prison, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

Asked about the danger Khodorkovsky would pose if he were set free, Medvedev gave only a brief response to one of the most sensitive issues in Russian politics.

“You asked a short question and the answer will be brief, as well: absolutely none,” Medvedev said.

A Moscow court on Tuesday delayed an appeal hearing against a conviction that last year extended Khodorkovsky’s stay in jail until 2017. The hearing will now be held on May 24.

Khodorkovsky, who built up Yukos into Russia’s biggest oil firm before it was broken up by the state, was found guilty of money laundering and embezzlement on top of his first 2005 tax evasion conviction.

His supporters say Khodorkovsky was jailed on trumped up charges to keep him out of politics.