Released Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky vows to help other political prisoners

BERLIN - Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is vowing to do all he can to ensure the release of political prisoners in Russia after his pardon and release.

Khodorkovsky spoke at a packed and tumultuous news conference in Berlin on Sunday, two days after he was released and immediately flew to Germany. Before being jailed he was seen as a political foe to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and had spent nearly a decade behind bars on what many believe were politically motivated charges.

"One should not see me as a symbol that there are no political prisoners left in Russia," Khodorkovsky said. "I would like you to take me as symbol that the efforts of civil society may lead to the release of people whose release was not expected by anyone.”

The 50-year-old said he would do "all I can do" to ensure the release of others.

He thanked media pressure for helping secure his release.

In a news conference announcing Khodorkovsky’s pardon, Putin said that Khodorkovsky had submitted an appeal for pardon, something he had refused to do before.

"He has spent more than 10 years behind bars. It's a tough punishment," Putin said. "He's citing humanitarian aspects - his mother is ill.”