Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released after asking for a pardon on family grounds

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who has spent more than a decade behind bars, was reunited with his son and parents in Berlin on Saturday after his release from prison.

Mr Khodorkovsky’s eldest son Pavel flew from the US, where he now lives, to see his father in the German capital.

A spokesman for Mr Khodorkovsky confirmed that his parents Boris and Marina had flown from Russia to join him on Saturday. The spokesman said: “Today is a family day.”

Mr Khodorkovsky will give a press conference in Berlin on Sunday, in the vicinity of Checkpoint Charlie, to disclose his future plans, the spokesman said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that he would pardon Mr Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man. He was freed from a prison colony in northwest Russia, issued with exit papers, and arrived in Berlin on Friday.

His departure from Russia was assisted by former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who twice spoke with Mr Putin about the country’s most famous political prisoner.

In a statement issued after he landed at Berlin’s Schönefeld airport, Mr Khodorkovsky confirmed he had sought a pardon from Mr Putin on November 12 “due to my family situation”, but denied admitting guilt in return.

His mother has sought medical treatment in Germany, according to friends of the family.

Mr Khodorkovsky was sentenced to eight years on fraud and tax evasion charges in 2005, and had his sentence lengthened in 2010 after being convicted on new embezzlement charges. The cases were widely seen in Russia and abroad as punishment after the one-time chief of the Yukos oil company challenged Mr Putin’s authority.

The pardon comes less than two months before Russia is due to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and many view it as a move to appease international opinion amid escalating diplomatic boycotts over the country’s human rights record.

Mr Khodorkovsky’s pardon followed an amnesty earlier in the week which is expected to release two jailed members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, and allow Greenpeace activists detained previously to leave Russia.

US secretary of state John Kerry welcomed Mr Khodorkovsky’s pardon and release. In a statement issued on Friday, Mr Kerry said: “We have repeatedly expressed our concerns about due process violations and selective prosecution in Russia, including against Khodorkovskiy and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who remains in prison.

“The United States strongly encourages Russia to pursue reforms that establish a transparent, independent, and reliable judicial system that upholds its commitments to human rights, the rule of law, and non-discrimination.”

David Clark, chairman of the Russia Foundation and previously a special adviser to the former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, suggested the release might be a “significant first step” in an accommodation between Mr Putin and parts of the opposition.

Mr Clark said: “There is also a debate taking place within the Kremlin about how to respond to the emergence of a stronger opposition with some hinting that a more open and competitive political system might be in prospect.”

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