Putin pardons former oil tycoon, along with members of Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists

BY newsdesk  December 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin Delivers Annual Speech
Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

In his annual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will pardon former billionaire tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been jailed for a decade. Putin said Khordorkovsky asked him for a pardon, and he granted the pardon because Khordorkovsky’s mother is ill.

“I think given the circumstances we can take the decision and very soon the decree to pardon him will be signed,” Mr Putin said in his press conference.

Khordorkovsky, convicted of tax evasion, stealing oil and money laundering, was once Russia’s richest man. And supporters say he is a political prisoner who has long contended his innocence.

The former tycoon’s representatives said they are not aware of any request.

Putin also pardoned, as a part of a mass amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners, two members of the punk band Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists, who were detained for protesting at an Russian oil rig.