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Russian President Vladimir Putin signs decree to pardon jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to pardon jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky has spent the last 10 years in prison on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement. His arrest in 2003 and the subsequent prosecution have been widely considered to be Putin's retribution for Khodorkovsky's political ambitions.

The decree published on the Kremlin's website on Friday said Putin was pardoning him for humanitarian reasons.

The development, along with an amnesty for two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band and the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace protest ship, appeared aimed at easing international criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin's pet project.