Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, freed on Friday after 10 years in prison, said he would not return to Russia till outstanding legal cases against him were closed.
Addressing his first press conference in Berlin on Sunday, Mr. Khodorkovsky made it clear he had been effectively deported from Russia after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin. “I was told I would be going home, but then they put me on a plane to Germany.”
He also suggested that he may have been exiled from Russia. “I’m not planning to go back to Russia for the time being because they may not let me leave the country again,” Mr. Khodorkovsky said citing a Russian court demand that he reimburse 17 billion roubles ($530 million) in tax arrears.
He, however, expressed the hope that the Russian Supreme Court would overturn the lower court ruling.
Mr. Khodorkovsky (50) said he would neither go back to business, nor fight for the assets taken away from him. “I will not enter politics either, struggle for power is not for me,” he said, adding that he will engage in public activity to help secure the release of all those wrongly convicted in Russia.
Asked if he hated Mr. Putin for sending him to prison and taking away his business Mr. Khodorkovsky said: “I knew we businessmen were playing rough games in those times. I was given a particularly rough time, but my family was treated well and therefore I take a pragmatic view of what happened to me: such were the rules of the game.”
The former oligarch was arrested in 2003 and convicted on charges of fraud and tax evasion even as his company was taken over by the state.
Mr. Khodorkovsky said over the past five years he had repeatedly refused to ask for pardon because Mr. Putin demanded a confession of guilt from him.