Vladimir Putin

Putin May Free Jailed Oil Tycoon, Pussy Riot Members by End of Year

In an amnesty deal

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Vladimir Putin could free a former oil tycoon and members of the Pussy Riot band, all portrayed as political prisoners by domestic and foreign critics, under an amnesty expected by the end of the year, according to a Kremlin human rights adviser.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who supporters say was jailed to curb a political challenge to Putin, putting his oil assets in state hands, and two Pussy Riot inmates are due for release next year. But an early discharge could help improve Putin's image before he hosts the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February.

Putin told his presidential human rights council in September to make suggestions for an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution in December.