Khodorkovsky applies for visa to Switzerland

Former Russian oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky has applied for a visa to Switzerland just five days after he was released from prison in Russia.
John MacDougall

Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has applied to a visa to Switzerland, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Khodorkovsky was released from prison five days ago and is currently staying in a luxury suite at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin.

"Khodorkovsky filed this request at the Swiss embassy in Berlin," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old former prisoner at a Russian penal colony applied for a three-month visa to travel to Switzerland, which includes the European Schengen area.

It is unclear if he plans to move to the Alpine country but his two sons currently attend school there.

While head of the Yukos oil company, Khodorkovsky kept $5 billion in Switzerland, which the country refused to hand over to Russian authorities after his conviction.

Switzerland said that Khodorkovsky's trial was politically motivated.

He is expected to be reunited with his family on Christmas Eve after meeting with his parents and his child Pavel from another marriage.

"They have not been together for 10 years,“ his spokeswoman Olga Pispanen told AFP of Khodorkovsky's wife Inna and their three children.

"He is waiting for the family's arrival. They will sit down and discuss everything.“

Khodorkovsky was once Russia's wealthiest man but was jailed in 2003 after being convicted of fraud.

He was a vocal critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a fact that some believe landed him in prison.

Putin gave him amnesty, along with other high profile prisoners, just months before Russia's Olympic Games in Sochi.