December 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin has marked the 50 days to go anniversary until the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi by offering an olive branch to his global critics by releasing political prisoners for the second successive day.
Following the ever-increasing number of international leaders announcing that they will not attend Sochi 2014 in an indirect protest of Russia's human rights record and anti-gay rights propaganda legislation, Putin has shown he is not averse to pragmatic political gestures of his own.
Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia's richest man, was jailed in 2003, officially for embezzlement, tax evasion and fraud.
But, because he had repeatedly clashed with Putin and funded opposition groups, he is widely viewed as a political prisoner and his release after a decade of failed release attempts is therefore a significant move.
Putin's admittance that "a decree to pardon Khodorkovsky will be signed shortly" has been interpreted as a means to reduce international criticism as the Olympics approach.
Putin insisted that Russia is taking its host country role seriously so that athletes can "perform at their best and make our fans and their countries' fans happy."
But, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo the latest additions to a list of world leaders missing the Games, which also includes German President Joachim Gauck and French leader François Hollande, the event is in danger of being lost in an avalanche of international criticism.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also introduced designated protest zones for protests to be made while, for the first time ever, accredited members of national delegations will be permitted to participate.
Perhaps most damagingly of all for Russia, the United States delegation will be led by two openly gay figures - former tennis player Billie Jean King and double Olympic ice hockey medallist Caitlin Cahow - with President Barrack Obama and vice-president Joe Biden each likely to stay away.
But the release of political prisoners may tempt other high profile leaders who have not yet committed either way to potentially attend, it will be hoped.
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December 2013: British Sports Minister to attend Sochi 2014 as nation adopts "sensible balance" towards protests
December 2013: US Government Sochi 2014 delegation to include openly gay athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow
December 2013: French President Hollande and Government officials to miss Sochi 2014
December 2013: Russia to establish protest zones during Sochi 2014, Bach reveals
December 2013: Georgia Prime Minister confirms athletes will be at Sochi 2014 but no Government officials