Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsy, who aroused the ire of then President Putin by daring to challenge him for the office of president and was reward for this audacity by a jail term, is requesting a parole after serving one half of the sentence. A Siberian judge has requested an evaluation of the former billionaire’s behavior in prison as part of the parole process. The case is an important test of the willingness of President Medvedev to transform his words about a government of law into action. if Medvedev supports the parole action, he would openly be challenging his mentor, Putin.
There are rumors of a possible deal that would release Khodorkovsky. His representatives are discussing the case with a close Medvedev advisor, Alexander Voloshin, who opposed Putin’s decision to put the Yukos CEO on trial. Under terms of the proposal, Khodorkovsky would not be allowed to make political statements or leave the country.
Khodorkovsky has become a symbol to millions of Russians who want the rule of law established in their nation. His release would suggest President Medvedev is serious about moving in that direction.