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Khodorkovsky May Be Freed Under Amnesty This Year

Imprisoned businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev may be released as early as this year under an amnesty for entrepreneurs that President Vladimir Putin will discuss at a meeting with business leaders next week.

Former Yukos owners Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are among the names included in a draft of an amnesty that would free up to 110,000 jailed entrepreneurs, Dozhd television reported, citing government sources.

The amnesty, which has been endorsed by presidential business ombudsman Boris Titov and State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin as a means to improve the business climate, will be discussed at a meeting on May 23, the eve of the Entrepreneur Day professional holiday.

It was unclear whether Putin would back the amnesty or the inclusion of Khodorkovsky, whose imprisonment is widely seen as Kremlin punishment for his political and business ambitions.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov would only confirm that Putin was aware of the initiative.

"The president knows that it is being discussed," Peskov said, noting that various options for the pardon are on the table, according to Interfax.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are currently serving 11-year sentences, with Lebedev's term expiring in August 2014 and Khodorkovsky's in October of the same year.

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