Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky is expected to reunite with his wife Inna and their three children in Berlin on Christmas Eve after spending 10 years in a Russian jail, his spokeswoman says.
“The family is coming today,” spokeswoman Olga Pispanen said on Tuesday. “They have not been together for 10 years.”
They will reunite in Berlin where Khodorkovsky flew in after walking free from a prison in northwestern Russia following a pardon from President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Khodorkovsky, who has said he would stay out of Russia, is mulling a move to Switzerland where his twin sons go to school and would like to discuss that plan with his family, the spokeswoman said.
“He is waiting for the family’s arrival. They will sit down and discuss everything,” Pispanen added.
Khodorkovsky has applied for a three-month Schengen visa to travel to Switzerland, the Swiss foreign ministry says.
“Khodorkovsky filed this request at the Swiss embassy in Berlin,” the ministry said in a statement.
His wife Inna, twin sons and daughter, who are believed to have been in Moscow when Khodorkovsky flew to Berlin, have had to sort out their travel documents before going to Germany.
“My family is my main treasure and we are together despite the years, kilometres and barbed wire,” Russia’s one-time richest man has said in one interview from prison.
He said he had seen lots of lonely people in prison and felt “ashamed” because he had a great family.
“In the lottery of fate I won big time,” he said, stressing his wife was waiting for him.
“I would not be able to exist without her. She is one half of my heart.”
On Saturday, Khodorkovsky reunited with his elderly parents, Marina and Boris, and his eldest son Pavel, his child from his first marriage.
Putin shocked Russia last Thursday by announcing he would pardon Khodorkovsky, who was jailed for financial crimes in separate convictions in 2005 and 2010. He had served time in Siberia and the region of Karelia close to the Finnish border and had been due for release in August 2014.
His daughter, Anastasia Khodorkovskaya, said she was driving and became “hysterical” when she received a text from her mother saying their father would soon be released.
“I stopped at a traffic light and realised I could not go any further,” she told opposition magazine The New Times, noting her two brothers Ilya and Gleb were in a state of “quiet shock”.
“They have only seen and remember him from within prison walls.”
“I do not remember the last time we celebrated the New Year as a family,” she added. “When dad was put in jail I was 12.”
Khodorkovsky’s supporters say the imprisonment was Putin’s revenge against the former tycoon who financed the political opposition and openly criticised the Russian strongman.
His Yukos oil firm was broken up and sold off to the state.
Khodorkovsky told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that he could not return to Russia so long as a court order for him to pay $550 million in damages was still in place.
Khodorkovsky said he would not seek revenge against Putin and pledged to help political prisoners held in Russian jails.