Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned and released from a penitentiary on Friday, has confirmed that he appealed to President Vladimir Putin for pardon, but insisted that confession of guilt was not under consideration.

"I appealed to the president of Russia for pardon on November 12 because of family reasons, and I am glad about the positive decision. Confession of my guilt was not under consideration," Khodorkovsky said in a statement posted on his press secretary's Facebook account.

"I would like to thank everyone who has been following the Yukos case all these years and for support you have rendered me, my family, and all those who have been convicted unjustly and who are still being persecuted. I am really looking forward to the minute when I can hug my loved ones and personally shake hands with all of my friends and colleagues," the statement says.

He said his thoughts are always about "those who are still in prison."

Khodorkovsky specially mentioned former German Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher's role in his release. "I specially thank Mr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher for his personal interest in my fate," he said.

"First of all I am going to repay my debt to my parents, my wife and my children, and I am very much looking forward to meeting them. I will welcome the opportunity to celebrate this upcoming holiday season with my family. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" the statement says.

What does Khodorkovsky’s release mean

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree pardoning the former head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The decree entered into force immediately on Dec. 20. Analysts agree that Khodorkovsky's early release is very good news for Russia and opinion polls indicate that the general public also approve of the decision. Read more>>>

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