Peter Foster in today’s Financial Post denounces Canada’s relative silence on the persecution of Khodorkovsky:
The U.S. State Department has professed profound concern about the implications of the Khodorkovsky case for the rule of law in Russia. Among others who have protested Mr. Khodorkovsky’s treatment are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, former Czech president Vaclev Havel, former Irish president Mary Robinson, former Polish president Lech Walesa and Amnesty International. Where are Canada’s protests? Anybody who imagined that Mr. Khodorkovsky’s case didn’t send out a wider warning for business has been disabused by the Kremlin’s recent pressure on international oil giants Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP over their Russian holdings. Perhaps the most terrifying indication of the lawlessness of Mr. Putin’s Russia is the number of murders, both inside and outside the country, that appear to be politically related. The most spectacular was the poisoning last year of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with polonium 210. Other cases include the executions of investigative journalist Anna Politskaya and crusading Bank of Russia official Andrei Kozlov. It would be easier to believe in the Kremlin’s innocence if it expressed more interest in solving these cases. Instead, in the Litvinenko affair for example, the Kremlin is being obstructive. One of the reasons for failing to co-operate with British authorities may be that Britain has offered refuge to other former executives of Yukos. Why should we care about Mr. Khodorkovsky? Because his persecution is a straw in a very dangerous wind. As Mr. Khodorkovsy’s defence team point out, “The weak responses to Russia’s backsliding have been a shocking surrender to sinister forces within the Russian leadership, and an overt signal to them that their belligerent authoritarianism will be tolerated — in exchange for preferential treatment in energy relations.” Mr. Putin said before Mr. Khodorkovsky’s trial and imprisonment that Russia would not allow businessmen to influence political life. He suggested that anybody who disagreed should look to the example of others who had tried and failed. “Some are gone forever,” he said, “and others are far away.” Perhaps the wonder is that Mr. Khodorkovsky is still only “far away” rather than “gone forever.” All civilized people should press for his release.