Dec. 21 - Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's Prime Minister at the time of the 2003 arrest of tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, reacts to Khodorkovsky's sudden release from prison. Mana Rabiee reports.
The media have flocked to Hotel Adlon in Berlin. That's where former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is thought to be. He was jailed for a decade in Russian prisons for challenging President Vladimir Putin. But on Friday, Khodorkovsky was unexpectedly freed by a Presidential pardon from Putin himself. He hastily flew to Germany to reunite with family, and on Saturday, gave his first interview since his release to a Russian magazine which published these photos. In Moscow, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov - a prominent opposition leader -- thinks the secretive nature of the prison release was likely Putin's idea. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) FORMER RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER MIKHAIL KASYANOV, SAYING: "He flew to Germany immediately, without even traveling to St.Petersburg or Moscow, to his home….It means he is in a forced political emigration. How long will it last for? We have to see how the situation develops." Kasyanov thinks the release was meant to soften Western criticism of Putin's Russia, as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics. But he cautions against writing off Putin's political opponent just yet. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) FORMER RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER MIKHAIL KASYANOV, SAYING: "Under Putin's regime Khodorkovsky of course will not run in the elections, but in the future... he is still a young man, he is just 50, everything is still ahead of him." Khodorkovsky was jailed in area once part of Stalin's Gulag labor camps. In leaving Russia on a hastily issued passport -- and possibly into exile - he follows a route taken by dissidents during Russia's Soviet-era past.