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Medvedev pardons just one opposition protester from Russian prison list

The Russian president pardoned just one prisoner from a list backed by the opposition while passing over prominent inmates such as the anti-Kremlin tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

MOSCOW // Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, yesterday pardoned just one prisoner from a list backed by the opposition while passing over prominent inmates such as the anti-Kremlin tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In March, opposition politicians met Mr Medvedev and asked him to review the convictions of a list of prisoners, including that of Mr Khodorkovsky, the jailed ex-Yukos oil company chief, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev.

The outgoing president responded by asking the prosecutor general to look at 32 cases. But when Mr Medvedev announced his pardons yesterday, only Sergei Mokhnatkin, jailed for hitting a policeman at an opposition rally, was pardoned.

Some had speculated that Mr Medvedev, seen as more liberal than the president-elect, Vladimir Putin, might use his last weeks as president to free jailed opposition figures.

Mr Putin will be inaugurated president on May 7 after he won a third Kremlin term with an emphatic victory in March polls.

Mr Mokhnatkin is not a prominent member of the opposition movement, although his jail sentence and a criminal conviction after being detained at a protest broken up by police angered rights activists.

He was accused of breaking a policeman's nose at a December 31, 2009, unsanctioned rally in support of constitutional rights. He said he was walking by and intervened after a policeman beat a woman.

In June 2010 he was jailed for two-and-a-half years and was sent to a penal colony.