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Mikhail Khodorkovsky granted temporary Swiss visa

Switzerland has granted Mikhail Khodorkovsky a temporary visa. The former Russian oil tycoon and critic of President Vladimir Putin was released from prison this month after serving a 10-year term for fraud.

Swiss officials confirmed on Monday that Khodorkovsky had been given a three-month visa.

Khodorkovsky, 50, has been staying in Berlin

since his release from a Russian prison on December 20, but had indicated

he wanted to travel to Switzerland

where his wife and children currently reside.

"Switzerland has granted the request of Mikhail Khodorkovsky for a Schengen visa. The visa allows a three-month stay in the Schengen area," the statement said. It did not provide further details.

The temporary residency permit allows Khodorkovsky to move freely throughout the European Union as well as the non-EU countries of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, a borderless zone known as the Schengen area.

In 2003, Russian authorities arrested Khodorkovsky - at the time

Russia's richest man and a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin

- on fraud charges. He was convicted of separate financial charges in 2005 and 2010 and had been due for release in August 2014.

Since his presidential pardon,

the former oil tycoon has said

he did not "intend to get involved in politics"

or to "fight for the return of assets." He also said he would not return to his home country without the guarantee that he could leave freely.

kms/se (AFP, Reuters)

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