EDITORIAL: Khodorkovsky, Russia’s Oddest Duck


Khodorkovsky, Russia’s Oddest Duck

Jailed oil “oligarch” Mikhail Khodorkovsky is surely Russia’s oddest duck, and in a land of strange fowl that is really saying something.

Khodorkovsky released a vicious broadside aimed at the Kremlin last week.  Writing in Nezavisimaya Gazeta (we republish an English translation below in today’s issue), Khodorkovsky stated that “the steamroller that has replaced justice is the gravedigger of the modern Russian state” and accused the Putin regime of operating a mafia-like judicial system whose “destruction will occur in the traditional way for Russia – from below and with bloodshed.”


And when one considers that this piece in the Russian press, written by a man in a Siberian prison cell, was timed to appear with Khodorkovsky’s full-scale offensive against Putin in the European Court for Human Rights, seeking $100 billion in damages for Putin’s theft of the YUKOS assets Khodorkovsky used to own, it’s a truly brilliant and valiant bit of writing.

It seems like only a yesteday, however, that when faced with the possibility of parole Khodorkovsky was sucking up to the Kremlin in the most shameless manner, rationalizing its invasion of Georgia and, seemingly, promising the Kremlin he would be a good boy if only they’d release him from his Siberian torment.

We’d like to give Khodorkovsky the benefit of the doubt.  Years unjustly confined to a Siberian prison cell would wear down anyone, as surely must the prospect of a second trial on the same charges that could put him away for life.  Perhaps his prior antics, shameful and discouraging as they were, merely represented a moment of weakness.

Surely, all those who purport to represent the opposition in Russia are guilty from time to time of similar transgressions.  They bicker with each other when the should be fighting the enemy in the Kremlin.  They adopt half measures, they vacillate.  And yet, who can blame them, then the vast majority of craven Russians either sit quietly doing nothing or actively support the regime?

As odd as Khodorkovsky’s behavior may be, he continues an active struggle against the Kremlin from behind bars. He faced arrest rather than fleeing, as did Boris Berezovsky.  He has done more to stand up against the neo-Soviet state in any one day of his life in the last decade than most Russians will do in their entire lives.

Recently, a Russia court held that because a man who repeatedly raped an 8-year-old girl had a job, a family and personal references, he didn’t need to spend a single day in jail but only needed a suspended sentence.  Khodorkovsky was never accused of any violent act and he also had a family, a job and references.  Yet he was ordered serve his entire sentence in Siberian prison.  That’s not justice, and not even the most crazed Russophile can claim otherwise.  Similarly, the murderer of Magomed Yevloev was given only house arrest.

So we salute this odd Russian duck, and we hope one day he will quack his way right inside the walls of the Kremlin, and have the chance to order Vladimir Putin to Siberia for a while. We doubt Putin will bear up half as well.

9 responses to “EDITORIAL: Khodorkovsky, Russia’s Oddest Duck

  1. Steamed McQueen

    Brave man this Khodorkovsky. If I were a betting man I might wager that if he keeps it up, there will be no need for a second ‘trial’… as he may experience some type of ‘accident’ inside the walls of Chita prison.

  2. Khodorkovsky has already accepted his doomed fate, realizing that he has nothing to lose by going out as a man.

  3. In my personal view Khodorkovsky made only one mistake, albeit a gigantic one! He rubbished ‘god’ Putin, without realizing what a vindictive man this Ka Ge Bist murderer was.

    • Well, frankly I have mixed feelings about Khodorkovsky. He is undoubtedly a victim of the vicious regime. But he was also a thief, wasn’t he? If yesterday you had a salary of 1,000 rubles a month and tomorrow your assets are $5 billion, I smell a rat somewhere, don’t you agree Bohdan?

      As they say, if you sleep with the dogs, don’t be surprised if you are bitten by a flee.

      • Sorry for misspelling. It’s a “flea.”

        • RV You are right, absolutely right; but he did not hold a gun to anyone’s head when he purchased their shares in Yukos at unfairly low prices. Sure, in other words, he diddled them badly.

          So I plead “nolo contesto” from me on that point.

          But then is Putler’s treatment of him fair? Why not instead;
          1. repurchase his shares at the price he purchased (read diddled) from their rightful/original shareholders.
          2. return them, to their rightful shareholders.
          3. sack him literally for “insider share trading” and,
          4. let him walk the street ranks of the unemployed.

          What a shock that would be to his system. Or so to speak “from a king to a pauper”, overnight.

          • I agree, even though he is clearly a thief, in my mind, still he did not kill anyone and so does not deserve this treatment. Especially since other thieves are just fine

  4. My Russian grandfather, a scientist, had a field station near Chita. My mother grew up there, surrounded by a happy family, until the Revolution. My grandfather, sensing danger, got his family out thru Manchuria into China, but he himself couldn’t believe that the Bolsheviks would bother with him and his important work, far from the political realm. Not smart. They got around to arresting him, on the grounds that he was an
    enemy of the people. He was wearing a light summer suit when they took him and he was dead of typhus a few months later, somewhere near Chita.

    Is there something we can do to help release Michael Khodorkovsky? To be tried again on the same charges is called double jeopardy and is against the law in the USA. I know this sounds naive, but perhaps if there is a big fuss made and Obama presents Putin with a petition publicly it could show Russia that the world is watching.

  5. Dear Yankeegirl, in my younger days I read a lot about the experiences of “zeks” that had served their 5 years (extremely rare), 10 years (very rare), 15 years (rare), or 20 years (the normal) in the Soviet Siberian penal system and were lucky enough to survive the period of their sentence and be released; and who were then lucky enough to escape to the West and write their memoirs.

    The sentencing (usually by a troika) was unbelievably arbitrary and meaningless, i.e. whether you were innocent or guilty, made no difference, as you had to be guilty to be in front of the sentencing body. Anyway, you were sentenced irrespective as the communists needed a source of cheap and free labor. Once in the GULAG it was imperative that you stayed clear of the physical work brigades as the life expectancy was two years (as opposed to three month in the Nazi concentration camps). Hence the smart ones tried to get jobs in either the medical, vegetable gardening, car/truck motor repairs or general maintenance fields. As these were the fields that the “zeks” in the long run were not worked to death in and had a chance of completing their GULAG term.

    Hence when you ask “Is there something we can do to help release Michael Khodorkovsky?” the answer is a guarded yes! Guarded because his case must be taken up personally by people such as the President of the USA – very unlikely as B.O. is gutless when it comes to dealing with Putler – or the Americans have caught an extremely important ruSSian spy that both countries are prepared to swap on a one for one basis. Again very unlikely, as the Americans at the moment do not possess such a spy or spies as you must remember the exchange is always loaded in RuSSia’s favor.

    On the other hand, trying to involve Germany’s Merkel, France’s Sarcozy or Italy’s Berlusconi is a total waste of time as all three are friends of and brown nose to ‘vozd’ Putler.

    Lastly the meaning of double jeopardy has utterly no effect on Soviet Russia, nor have I have never heard of any signed petition being prepared and presented to any Russian leader which has worked. You must remember that you are not approaching sane people – but the likes of which served in the hierarchy of the Soviet Kremlin or in the present day Putler’s fascist Kremlin.

    But in all fairness do not let me stop you, as who knows you may set a precedence and actually win! But hurry up as I suspect Mr Khodorkovsky will meet an untimely end before the completion of his sentence, caused by either the harsh winter, unsanitary conditions in the freezing prison and or sickness with no medical help being made available until it is too late.

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