Russia » Politics

Khodorkovsky: manifesto from prison

Vedomosty published the article written by former Head of Yukos company Mikhail Khodorkovsky in prison.
The article is about the crisis of liberalism in Russia. “If a year ago somebody had told me that rightist parties SPS and Yabloko would gain less than 5 percent of votes at the Parliamentary election and would not gain seats in the Parliament, I would have questioned the analytical abilities of this person. However, failure of SPS and Yabloko is a reality of this day”, Khodorkovsky wrote.

“At the presidential elections, liberals were represented by two candidates. One of them, former Communist Ivan Rybkin, produced farce instead of political campaign…. Another candidate, Irina Khakamada, tried by all means to separate herself from her liberal background, criticized Boris Yeltsyn and promoted the idea of the socially oriented state. After the elections she was not embarrassed to call 3.84 percent of votes in her support as her big success”.

“In fact, we see liberals surrendering. This surrender is not only their fault, but also their big trouble. ... Readiness to forget Constitution for the sake of having good food. Russian liberals have always been like this, and they are still the same”, Mikhail Khodorkovsky wrote.

”Freedom of expression”, “freedom of ideas”, “freedom of consciousness” are being abandoned. Not only by ordinary people, but also by majority of those who is considered as the society elite. They say this is just a conflict between the President and oligarchs.

Meanwhile, there are more and more bearers of the new outlook – representatives of so-called “party of national revival”. This party is represented by faceless “United Russia”, “Rodina” (Motherland) boasting its surpassing other competitors and LDPR which leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky demonstrated his exceptional political vitality. All these people are stating that the liberal ideas were a failure, and Russia does not need freedom. These statements were ordered by their masters from the Kremlin. They say the nation does not need freedom for its development, and those speaking about freedom are either oligarchs or bastards (which is generally the same thing). On this background Vladimir Putin looks as liberal number one – his ideas are more attractive than those of Rogozin and Zhirinovsky. 

Probably Vladimir Putin is neither liberal nor democrat, but he is more liberal and democratic than 70 percent of the country’s population. Putin absorbed all the anti-liberal energy of the majority of Russian people and did not allow the supporters of our national radicals Zhirinovsky and Rogozin to takeover the power in Russia”, -Mr. Khodorkovsky wrote.

”Nevertheless, liberalism cannot die in Russia because lust for freedom remains one of the main instincts of a human being, no matter where this person lives – in Russia, China or Sweden. The word “freedom” can have many connotations. However, the spirit contained in this word, cannot be eradicated”.

“Those entrusted by history to preserve liberal values in Russia, failed to accomplish this task. Today we should honestly admit this. The time for hypocrisy has passed, and this is seen perfectly from the cell of the prison where I am now, better from other, more comfortable locations”.

PS. Former Head of YUKOS Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested on October 25, 2003. Charges on seven articles of Russian Criminal Code have been brought to him: stealing big amount of property by fraud in the organized group, tax evasion on a large scale and malicious failure to comply with the court verdict. On March 19 Basmanny District Court in Moscow extended the term of detention for Khodorkovsky until May 25. Khodorkovsky is denying the charges. On November 3 he resigned from the post of YUKOS Board Chairman.

Source: Newsru