Boundaries of Tolerance and Intolerance

This opinion piece from Alexander Arkhangelsky was published on RIA Novosti in Russian last week, and then translated a few days later (still before the double murder of Markelov and Baburova).  See Arkhangelsky’s earlier pieces and RA’s “Politics of Parole” on the same subject.

Yuri Budanov has been released from prison, while Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his accomplices remain incarcerated. No matter how one feels about these individuals personally, one thing is clear: there are criminal cases that somehow, on their own accord, turn into cases that are political and emblematic.

These cases serve as a pretext for thethinking minority and for the authorities to blindly determine thelimits of how far the judicial system can be “stretched”–what’sessentially possible and allowable, and what’s not. Where the statewill stoop down to the level of human feebleness, and where it’s readyand willing to destroy human strength. Decisions made in such cases setthe informal framework for formal norms, they turn into precedents forthe court system and define the vectors of the general movement in aprescribed direction.

So, neither Svetlana Bakhmina nor Mikhail Khodorkovsky has beenreleased on parole, which obviously violates some procedures. AndBudanov, with no less obvious violations, was released, five hoursbefore the time limit expired for the victim’s lawyers to file anappeal, which would have made the release on parole impossible. Thusthe state indicated, so to say, the boundaries of its own tolerance andintolerance. What is it willing to tolerate, and what will not betolerated?