Forty-seven percent of Russian citizens interviewed by Levada Center sociologists have applauded President Vladimir Putin's decision to pardon former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Sixty-three percent of those polled said they were aware that the president had granted a pardon to Khodorkovsky, and 33 percent said they learn this only during the current survey, Levada Center experts told Interfax following the poll, which was conducted in 45 Russian regions from December 20 to December 24.

At the same time, 17 percent of respondents criticized this step, and 40 percent said they were unimpressed.

President Putin said after a press conference on December 19 that he had received a request from Khodorkovsky to pardon him. On December 20, the former oil tycoon was pardoned and was flown to Berlin on a private jet immediately after his release from prison.

However, 55 percent of respondents to the survey said they doubted that Khodorkovsky had applied for a pardon, with a mere 7 percent of those polled saying they believed it.

Thirty-three percent of those polled said that such a request means that a person admits his guilt, 24 percent took the opposite view, and 43 percent were undecided.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003. In May 2005, a district court in Moscow sentenced him to nine years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. The Moscow City Court later reduced the sentence to eight years.

When the trial was close to completion, reports on a second case against Khodorkovsky emerged. In December 2010, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to 14 years in prison for oil theft and legalization of proceeds from its sale.

Six months later, the Moscow City Court cut the sentence to 13 years. The duration of Khodorkovsky's prison term is counted from the moment he was arrested under the first Yukos case in 2003. Khodorkovsky was due for release on August 25, 2014.

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