Special Extra — EDITORIAL: Khodorkovsky Surrenders


Khodorkovsky Surrenders

“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.

11 responses to “Special Extra — EDITORIAL: Khodorkovsky Surrenders

  1. I would not feel bound to tell the truth in any manner or form to nazi jailers.
    And the funny thing is, nazi jailers never seem to guess that this might be the case: consider all the expressions of eternal loyalty to the ideals and ‘science’ of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin which vanished in a puff of fetid air when the USSR imploded.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: True enough, but he’s done nothing like what Gandhi or King did while he’s been in prison, and letting him out on the present charges means nothing because they could just arrest him on new charges any time they wanted if he breaks their deal. The only thing lying would accomplish would be if he was going to flee the country, get asylum and then launch a war like Berezovsky is doing, but better. There’s no sign he has any such intentions, nor any sign that he has people on the ground who could carry out such a battle.

  2. You’re quite right, of course, he has not shown the qualities of a Gandhi, King, or Mandela while in prison or before it. But for an oligarch, he’s not bad – best of bad lot in fact. That’s not saying much, of course, because the base level is so damn near rock bottom, you can’t really discern the gap. And I never thought he was much more than a smidge above that, so my expectations were lower.
    I did, however, find it interesting to see how the persecution humanised him and, all in all, still think he has behaved with some dignity (and that whatever he says to his jailers should not be part of one’s judgement of him).
    In his place, I’d get myself and family out of the country pronto, re-acquire the massive nest-egg that is surely hidden away in some offshore, and get on with life.
    That’s when things will show.

  3. Oh, and my money’s one lounging on a yacht in Nice, eating oysters – because that’s what oligarchs do best.

  4. La Russophobe: No, it doesn’t seem like he intends to wage an all-out war against the Medvedeev/Putin duo but it would be nice if he coupled up with the likes of Kasparov and perhaps some of the other outspoken dissidents/opposition members.

  5. I think your take here is a bit harsh. The man has gone through alot. We have no way of knowing what his real personal experience has been.

  6. LA, what personal sacrifices have you ever made to advance the case of Russia?

    Dave – it’s easy to be a hero and pontificate how one would deal with Nazi jailers. Why should anybody assume that you would be stronger? Have you ever been in prison innocently?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: We do our work for free, devoting huge chunks of our personal time to it, at great risk. Politkovskaya and Litvinenko were killed for doing what we do, simply writing the the truth about Russia. We’re the toughest critics of the KGB regime in the Kremlin on the Internet. Now, what do YOU do to “advance the case” of Russia, big mouth?

  7. Why does anyone compare Khodorkovskvsky to Ghandi or King? K was a business tycoon, a deal maker, not a religious leader. So why should anyone expect anything more from him? He’s going to make a deal with the Kremlin. That is what he’s good at.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: The answer is quite simple. Because in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Nobody cares enough about Russia to want to be its King or Gandhi, and that is why the country doesn’t have one. Folks like Khodorkovsky are the best Russia can do in that area. It’s a pathetic commentary on the extent to which Russia brutalizes its own citizens, making them believe their country is simply not worth risking your life for.

  8. Michael: K. is not the kind of person to make a deal with the Kremlin. He may be compared to others who’ve worked to advance the cause of democracy and freedom well…because that’s what he’s been doing.

  9. What is the absolute worst crime you can commit in roosha, whether under the tsars, the commissars, or today?

    Make a political statement.

    This is classic homo sovieticus – let someone out of jail if they keep their mouth shut, or go into exile – if the government hasn’t killed them already.

    There was a Ukrainian Cardinal named Slipyj. As a religious cleric, a cardinal, he was a very important figure in Ukraine.

    The sovoks put him in Siberia. There was so much pressure to let this cleric out, that the sovoks finally tried to make a deal.

    “We will let you out if you promise never to say or do anything in public.”

    It is a genetic culture of fear.

    You can beat your wife, be perpetually drunk, steal, murder, commmit sexual harrassment, blow people up –

    just don’t be in the political opposition, and don’t make any political statements.

    Not even on the Internet, as Taras Zeleniak found out.

  10. LR, I disagree with your opinion.

    Khordorkovsky has refused to admit that he is guilty. He has refused to legitimatize the disgusting Russian legal system. He could have grovelled in his parole application. The sham of a parole court refused his petition for his lack of “repentance” which should tell you what the state wants from him.

    His business is gone, he has no relevant political base. I’m amazed he didn’t meet with a fatal accident in prison, he still may. The hard cold truth is that most Russians don’t give a damn about the violation his rights. They don’t give a damn about all of the Yukos employees in prison on bogus charges or the rotten courts. Why sacrific your life and family for such ingrates?

    Khordorkovsky has behaved with class and courage as defined by Hemingway as “grace under pressure”. A lesser man would have brokered a deal years ago.

    Kasparov left the country. He understands that there is no safety or viability for a meaningful opposition.

    Oh, and, David Essel, please enumerate for me the specific qualities that Gandhi, King, or Mandela showed in prison that Khordorkovsky hasn’t measured up to while in prison? And, Khordorkovsky never owned a yacht unlike other oligarchs. He worked very hard building a modern oil company from scratch. So it really doesn’t follow that if freed he would choose a life of decadence when he never behaved like that before.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: He did grovel. That’s exactly what he did. He promised to not to do any of the things that got him jailed. Had he given that promise before he was jailed, he would not have been jailed. He gave in and begged for mercy. He’s been broken. And that will be the story of him. While in prison, he did not publish, he did not speak, he did not direct his followers to take any serious protest action, he did not fund opposition groups, he just played nice and obeyed the rules.

  11. LR, sorry, but, I’m of the opinion that only a greater fool would have done all that you require of Khordorkovsky. He’s hardly in any position to be funding with what’s left of his money and directing the opposition from a prison cell. His followers are a puny handful of people. The vast majority of Russian sheeple are quite content with Putin. The man has behaved with dignity from the beginning to now. He’s lucky his life hasn’t been snuffed out. There is a difference from being a hero and a fool. I’ll repeat again the lesson that even Kasparov has learned, there is no point in being a martyr to people that really prefer the totalitarian state which most Russians do. Kasparov left Russia for fear of his life right after the election.

    Khordorkovsky did not grovel. He took Medvedev up on his word that the Russian judicial system needs reforming. You could say he called his bluff in asking which is his right and in compliance with Russian law for his parole.

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