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Khodorkovsky applies for Swiss visa

Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has applied for a visa to Switzerland less than a week after being released from decade-long imprisonment.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said he submitted the request at the Swiss embassy in Berlin.

The 50-year-old, a long-time critic of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, flew to Germany on Friday within hours of being pardoned.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said the three-month visa request would probably be processed soon.

Mr Khodorkovsky's sons go to school in Switzerland and he has business ties there. But his spokesman denied the visa request was an indication of where the 50-year-old planned to settle.

"He wants to travel to Switzerland early in the new year to see the place where his sons go to school. But there's no decision yet about a permanent home," he said.

There has been speculation about Mr Khodorkovsky's next move. The German government has given him a one-year visa for Germany.

Mr Khodorkovsky has business ties to Switzerland stretching back to his days as head of the Yukos oil company. When he was prosecuted for tax evasion and money-laundering, Russian officials sought to seize about 5 billion dollars linked to Yukos that had been deposited in Switzerland.

But Swiss authorities refused to hand over the money after concluding that the prosecution was politically motivated. It is unclear how much of the money belonged directly to Mr Khodorkovsky, and whether he already has access to it.

-AP

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