I am too busy enjoying Kiev to really be in the mood to blog about the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, but I did want to say a couple of things
I don’t believe that Mikhail Khodorkovsky is “the Russian Nelson Mandela.” I think this categorization is ridiculous. I like what a colleague of mine said about the cartoonish proceedings surrounding his latest trial in Moscow: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I don’t consider Khodorkovsky a hero – he certainly was the opposite of that before he went to prison, at the very least, and I wish people would remember that. Oligarchs don’t rise to power because they’re great guys who just happened to find billions upon billions in a trash bag on the sidewalk sometime in the 1990’s, OK? But this latest trial and sentencing of Khodorkovsky and his associate Platon Lebedev is an embarrassment for the Russian judicial system and the Kremlin and to business in Russia. And I don’t blame Khodorkovsky’s mother for raining down curses on the head of Judge Danilkin and his progeny at the sentencing. If I was in her position, I’d do the same thing.
One thought on “Khodorkovsky: “two wrongs don’t make a right””
I think Khodorkovsky’s sentencing – which he did not appear to greet with much surprise, and not because he’s a stoic – would be a whole lot easier to understand if the western media would stop perpetuating the myth that he got sent downriver for “stealing oil from his own company”. Right away, that invites incredulity and outrage: say it ain’t so, Joe!!
Quite a few of the cheerleaders in Khodorkovsky’s corner would mute their boola-boola considerably if (a) they actually read and understood the judgment,and (b) they learned Khodorkovsky would be starting up business the same way in their country next week. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is being shoehorned into martyrdom in the west because he is a convenient stick with which to beat Russia, while simultaneously mocking their justice system.
This is someone who took advantage of a regional tax-exemption system designed to promote investment and small-to-medium business on a regional basis, as well as discounting almost his entire salary earnings for tax purposes, while he was the 16th-richest man on the planet. If you tell people that instead of “can you believe Khodorkovsky got another 6 years for stealing oil he ALREADY OWNED????”, the sympathy quotient falls off sharply in all but the most russophobic.