A picture taken on April 6 1998, shows former tycoon and bitter Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky attending a meeting in the headquarters of his Yukos oil company in Moscow. Putin signed today a decree granting a pardon to Khodorkovsky, allowing his release after more than a decade in prison. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV / Getty Images
MOSCOW -- The Russian penitentiary service says jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been pardoned by President Vladimir Putin, has left for Germany.
Prison officials said in a statement published on its website on Friday that Khodorkovsky had petitioned to be allowed to leave the country to meet his mother who is undergoing medical treatment in Germany. The agency insisted that he left on his own volition.
Khodorkovsky has spent the past 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 Kremlin published Putin's decree on Friday pardoning the former oil tycoon for humanitarian reasons.