I have never met a former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky or his wife Inna, but as millions of Russians, have been following his story since his arrest in 2003. Of course it is difficult to pass a judgement on someone you have never met, as you don’t have the facts or the full story, but I will allow myself to say a few things on this subject.
Yes, from what I have read and heard ‘the deal’ between the Russian political elite and business elite was ‘don’t go into politics and we will let you keep your money’. Khodorkovsky, for reasons known to him and, I hope, his inner circle, made a different judgement and decided to become politically active. Was he becoming too successful for the political top to feel threatened or did he have too many enemies alreadyenvying his business success-again, I don’t know, but as many of us saw on television, he was arrested in a dramatic fashion and put on trial for tax evasion, breaking the law, swindling money etc. together with Platon Lebedev in 2003.
We are approaching the end of 2010 at top speed and today the judge started announcing the verdic of the new trial, which might give Khodorkovsky another 14 years of imprisonment, while he might have been possibly coming out in 2012 based on his initial sentence.
For a man who has been in prison for such a long time already, Khodorkovsky handles himself with immense dignity and appears very contained and at peace with himself. You can even see him smile ruefully and looking at him I keep on asking myself why was he made a scapegoat, while we have so many oligarchs who throw money around, take the money out of the country or continue doing business solely benefiting them while the people around them or working for their enterprises can barely scrape enough money to support their families , probably have the same sins that Khodorkovsky, yet they are ‘free’-well, as free as a Russian can be-and he is in prison. Why are we not putting pressure on our president and government to put an end to this farce and make a new, honest beginning ?
Inna Khodorkovskaya gave a rare interview recently to the Russian magazine Snob and I read it in one breath two nights ago at 2 am, having come back from a lovely weekend celebrating Christmas with friends. I was a bit tired but happily relaxed as I was catching up on my Internet browsing and the familiar surname caught my eye.
It gives a small glimpse into the private hell of a woman who loves her incarcerated husband and waits for him patiently, while the years go by and she is raising their three kids on her own, surrounded by the indifferent society. I can’t help myself but feel respect for Khodorkovsky and his wife and not much of it for any Russian who thinks that it’s fine for one man to be responsible for the sins of a crowd. Unfortunately, we live in cynical times, many of us becoming more cynical through no fault of our own, in order to simply survive in our brutal, at times soulless world.
After reading the interview I can honestly say that you have to admire Inna Khodorkovsky for being honest and for saying what she said, especially in the end-very brave for a woman in her position, on the eve of the new trial verdict of her husband. She has been through hell and she still remains there, because the man she loves, the man who is her best friend and the father of her children is behind bars with no hope of getting out while certain people remain in power. Russian society remains on thr side lines, thinking that this doesn’t concern them while this can happen to anyone, if you live in the lawless society where a verdict can be easily bought, a person in power or with money can kill someone and get away with it and police often does more damage than good to the people it is supposed to be protecting-and there are so many more examples. Each one of us has to take a stand for what they believe in because otherwise how can you live with yourself ? It’s so easy to attack our former Mayor Luzhkov now but where were all those accusers when he was in power for example?
What also troubles me is the thought that Khodorkovsky was and is the only oligarch who was brave enough to criticise people running the country, while others enjoy their comfortable existence and wouldn’t utter a word, even if it is constructive critisism and can benefit the whole society.
We admire money and power, we are blinded by it, we almost religiously respect it hence we are at fault too. As the saying goes, every nation deserves its leaders-we definitely deserve ours.
I hope Mikhail Khodorkovsky comes out of prison sooner rather than later and fulfills his life purpose outside the prison walls, whatever it might be. And I wish his wife courage and an unwaivering belief that good things come to those who wait patiently and lovingly, knowing deep inside that the person who they are waiting for is worthy of it.
p.s the link below is to the Inna Khodorkovsky interview on the Snob site, but to read a full version you a) have to understand Russian and b) be a subscriber….