December 7, 2016 / 3:29 PM / 8 months ago

Irish court releases assets worth $100 million to Russia's Khodorkovsky

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Former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event at Canary Wharf in London, Britain, November 26, 2015.Peter Nicholls

DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish court on Wednesday released assets worth $100 million (79.39 million pound) to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, part of the former Russian oligarch's global legal effort to recoup billions of dollars seized in the years following his 2003 arrest.

Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man before he fell foul of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Yukos oil company was broken up to pay alleged unpaid taxes.

He was pardoned in 2013 and is involved in a number of cases to recover funds frozen by authorities around the world.

Assets worth $100 million were frozen for over five years as Irish police conducted an investigation in the wake of Khodorkovsky's 2010 conviction in Russia for money laundering.

The freezing order was revoked by Dublin's District Court on Wednesday, a lawyer for Khodorkovsky Sean Gillane said.

Khodorkovsky welcomed the decision, tweeting that "the lie about the money being laundered has remained a lie".

The head of the International Centre for Legal Protection, which is coordinating legal cases related to Yukos, said Russia was "extremely surprised" by the ruling, Russian state news agency RIA reported.

He said the Russian state was not given an opportunity to represent its interests in the case.

Khodorkovsky, who is being investigated in Russia on suspicion of ordering a contract killing, said in a statement he would use some of the funds to campaign for human rights in Russia.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Louise Ireland

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