The leader of the Communist Party of Russia, Gennady Zyuganov, said on Wednesday he would pardon former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky if elected president.
Khodorkovsky, once seen as a potential threat to Putin, has been in jail on charges of fraud and tax evasion since 2003. His eight-year jail term has since been extended by another five years and is currently due for release in 2016.
“I think humanity and mercy should be shown. Khodorkovsky has already served quite a long term,” the Communist leader told reporters.
He said the results of the “illegal and criminal” privatization of the 1990s should be reviewed first and those found guilty of economic crimes should be punished in accordance with the term served by Khodorkovsky.
"About 50,000 crimes have been uncovered. By considering all those cases we would be able to make a decision, by which everyone would get what they deserve with a reference to the term served by Khodorkovsky,” Zyuganov said.
Zyuganov, who is to announce his campaign platform on Saturday, also said he would amend the constitution to permit only two five-year presidential terms.
A senior member of his party, Andrey Klychkov, said the Communists have prepared an extensive reform of Russia’s political system, including limiting presidential powers, reinstating direct governor elections, increasing the presidential campaign period and making political debates obligatory for all candidates.