After Arctic austerity, Khodorkovsky savors Berlin luxury

Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:08am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum and Lidia Kelly

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The luxury hotel in Berlin where Mikhail Khodorkovsky has spent the last few nights is worlds away from Corrective Colony No. 7, where the former oil tycoon was locked up for years.

But Khodorkovsky says he could not care less about the gulf between the cramped Russian prison and his palatial accommodation at the Adlon, Germany's most famous hotel.

After being pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who let him out more than 10 years after he was jailed for tax evasion and fraud in a case his supporters say was politically motivated, Khordokovsky is reportedly staying in the Adlon's vast "Pariser Platz" suite.

The contrast between the 3,200 euros ($4,400) per night suite with the most lavish luxury Germany can offer and the dreary prison in Segezha more than 2,000 km (1,250 miles) to the northeast near the Arctic circle could hardly be starker.

For the last two and a half years, Khodorkovsky shared a filthy barrack-like room there with more than 20 other inmates, his mother Marina Khodorkovskaya once told Reuters.

She said she was only allowed to see her son every two months.

"I could talk to him for four hours by phone through a window glass," she said. Her side of the partition had only two chairs, nailed to the floor, and one receiver, so she had to take turns with her husband while talking to Mikhail.

Khodorkovskaya said that when Mikhail's wife returned from visits to the prison the first thing she would do was take a shower. "That should tell you a lot about the conditions there."   Continued...

Freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands with his parents Marina and Boris ahead of a news conference in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, December 22, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/Pool