Khodorkovsky had 'no choice' over destination after release

22nd December 2013, Comments 0 comments

Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Sunday revealed he had no choice about his end destination of Germany after he was released from jail, also telling Western leaders that other "political prisoners" remained in Russian jails.

"I had no choice at the stage of my release," he said at his first open news conference in Berlin, saying he only learnt he would be going to Germany during his transfer.

"Many facts of my release are still unknown to me," he added, speaking 36 hours after he was released from jail in northwestern Russia.

He added that Western governments should "remember I am not the last political prisoner in Russia".

The former chief executive and founder of the Yukos oil giant said he had no plans to return to business but had enough means to live on.

He thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for working on his release. He said that he had been granted a German visa for one year but had not decided on his future travel plans.

"She (Merkel) made it possible for me to be free today," he said at the news conference at the Berlin Wall museum at the symbolic Cold War location of Checkpoint Charlie

Khodorkovsky said that owing to a lawsuit for over half a billion dollars in damages stemming from his frist 2005 conviction there was "not guarantee" that if he returned to Russia he would be allowed to leave again.

Asked about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Khodorkovsky refused to be drawn into expressing hatred towards the Russian strongman. He said that while he had been treated harshly "my family had never been touched".

He said he was against a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in February 2014, saying a "festival of sport should not be spoilt". But he acknowledged it should not become a "festival of Vladimir Putin".

© 2013 AFP

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