“I’m not going to return to the oil and gas business or seek a review of the unjust decisions concerning Yukos after being set free. I will devote myself to humanitarian projects and, most importantly, my family.”
– Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to his Chita parole board, August 21, 2008
Another one bites the dust.
Faced with the prospect of a second criminal trial on the same charges that could keep him in jail forever, dissident oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has raised the white flag, begging for mercy like a shameless coward in the hope of winning mercy — or perhaps pity would be a better word — from Putin’s Kremlin.
In exchange for freedom, he’s willing to give up political activity, business activity and legal activity against the Kremlin, and live out the rest of his life in the shadows.
Just like Solzhenitsyn, Khodorkovsky is betraying all the things his life might have meant for crass personal reasons. Nobody, of course, has the right to demand that any fellow human be a hero, and anyone can be broken by the likes of the KGB. But we feel betrayed by Khodorkovsky, whose life in prison has not been all that difficult and who led us on, making us believe he could and would fight the good fight to the bitter end.
And it was all for nothing. Because the Kremlin promptly denied his request for leniency, meaning that his sell-out accomplished exactly nothing. How can anyone continue to support Khodorkovsky as he serves out the rest of his sentence, and perhaps another on top of it, now that he has renounced his ideals?
His craven performance, however, does serve to emphasis the pure evil emanating from the Kremlin these days, capable of striking down even a powerful billionaire and wiping out a gigantic corporation at the stroke of a pen. This is as it was in Soviet days, and as it will be until neo-Soviet Russia destroys itself, or a true Russian patriot emerges to raise the clarion call of freedom.