Mikhail Khodorkovsky: human rights hero

Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev recently gave a wonderful speech about the need to modernize Russia, curb corruption, extend rule of law and democratic rights, etc.

Words are cheap.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was one of those new young billionaires arising from Soviet Communism’s fall. Head of the oil firm Yukos, he was Russia’s richest man. Then in 2003, the Putin regime charged tax evasion, tossed Khodorkovsky into a prison camp, and essentially stole Yukos.

While Putin accused Khodorkovsky of gangster capitalism, the ironic truth is that, of all Russia’s new tycoons, he was probably the most honest, transparent, and lawful in running his company. Khodorkovsky believed Russia should be a normal country. The tax charges were phony. Khodorkovsky’s real offense was open political and financial support for Russia’s democratic opposition. Putin was sending an unmistakeable message: if he could crush even this cleanest and richest foe, then all the country’s dirty businessmen (which, given Russia’s business climate, is most of them) had better dance to the Kremlin’s tune.

With Khodorkovsky’s 8-year sentence nearing completion, the regime has put him (together with his co-defendant, Platon Lebedev) on trial again, now charging him (contradictorily) with stealing the oil on whose profits he supposedly didn’t pay tax. But (like the hero Sharansky, and unlike the pathetic victims of Stalin’s show trials) Khodorkovsky is unbowed. Not only is he vigorously defending himself against the farcical charges, but he has smuggled out and published a series of articles exposing the vicious, corrupt, murderous gangsterism of the Putin-Medvedev regime, and the sorry state of Russian society in consequence.

Thus, in an ironic twist of history (or is it?), a man who was once a leading capitalist is today Russia’s foremost champion of human rights. The Economist magazine deems him today’s equivalent of Andrei Sakharov. It sees the regime itself, rather than Khodorkovsky, as really being on trial now.

(Click HERE for Khodorkovsky’s website.)

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9 Responses to “Mikhail Khodorkovsky: human rights hero”

  1. Tommie T Says:

    Along with Khodorkovsky the human rights violations against all the other convicts at Yukos who were convicted needs to be brought to the fore. Tax accountants convicted of fraud. Money launderers convicted of money laundering. Thugs convicted of thuggery. Plus all the other criminals convicted of various crimes.

    [FSR comment: Are you being facetious? There is much lawlessness in Russia, but the Yukos operation was among the most un-Russian in that regard. As one of my Moscow friends tells me, he lives in a gangster state, where the biggest crimes are committed by the regime.]

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  5. Time For (Yet) Another Russian Revolution « The Rational Optimist Says:

    […] Putin runs a gangster regime whose total raison d’etre is power and lucre. Oil and gas revenues substitute for any genuine economic development. This Putinism was exemplified by the affair of Yukos Oil, once actually Russia’s most modernized and transparent enterprise. That didn’t save Yukos from being effectively stolen by Putin’s kleptocracy, with Yukos’s leader Khodorkovsky tossed into a Siberian prison (on absurd charges) where he remains. (See my 4/25/10 post.) […]

  6. Free Pussy Riot « The Rational Optimist Says:

    […] I previously wrote of the Putin gang’s legal persecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. And now they have started a prosecution against Alexei Navalny, the blogger who was so prominent in the recent anti-Putin demonstrations. They’ve charged him with stealing lumber, of all things. Funny how the justice system is so assiduous in finding and punishing (cooked-up) wrongdoing by regime nuisances, but never notices the monstrous criminality of its own gangsters. […]

  7. Alexei Navalny and the Kremlin Kriminals | The Rational Optimist Says:

    […] Mikhail Khodorkovsky was one of Russia’s richest men, and among them all, possibly the most above board. Yet Putin’s Kremlin Kriminals, in 2003, used trumped up tax evasion charges to effectively steal his company and toss Khodorkovsky in prison, where he still remains. His real crime was funding political opposition to Putin. […]

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