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December 19, 2013 AT 2:13 PM
President Vladimir Putin will pardon one of his best known opponents, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, after a decade in jail in what may be a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics. Putin made the surprise announcement that he would soon free Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, after a marathon news conference on Thursday in which he exuded confidence that he has reasserted his authority in the face of street protests.