Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was "no threat to society," but made clear he did not expect the Kremlin opponent to be freed any time soon, dpa reported
"He is not dangerous in any way," Medvedev said at a news conference, in answer to a reporter's question.
Khodorkovsky, once the chief of the Yukos oil company, has been in prison since 2003. He was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion and again n 2010 of money laundering.
Medvedev declined to give an opinion on when Khodorkovsky, who has served most of an eight-year prison term and has asked for parole, might be released.
"I wouldn't want to speculate on that," he said.
Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man before he ran afoul of the Kremlin after backing opposition political parties. Human rights groups have criticized Khodorkovsky's prosecution as politically motivated.