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Grigory Pasko: Adventures in State Propaganda

kniga120308.jpgI recently read the latest book about YUKOS and Khodorkovsky. The author – a certain Vladimir Perekrest from «Izvestiya» – not only named it «What Khodorkovsky is sitting for» [“to sit” is the Russian equivalent of the American phrase “to do time” in jail–Trans.] (note that the title is not in the form of a question, because for him, Perekrest, it is obvious that the former head of YUKOS is sitting for good reason and justly), he also peppered the entire book with this phrase, every time attempting to fasten his arguments to it.

About the author. At the end of the book is written that this – is a «famous journalist, deputy editor of a department at «Izvestiya», that he has «broad erudition» and an «excellent style» and that this book – is the first in his glorious labor biography.

I read the book. From the very first page of the text the author tries to convince the reader that the trial of Khodorkovsky showed that «the power is stronger , the law is stronger». Here’s a quote: «Having demonstratively punished the most mighty of the oligarchs, the president showed the others who’s boss in the country». Here Perekrest himself kissed goodbye his book and any value it might have had: he absolutely justly asserts that in the criminal case against Khodorkovsky the president decided everything (then he was V. Putin), and not the law. The conclusion from the author’s passage is simple and clear: in Russia there is no independent court, because it is precisely to a court that are given the powers to punish and to be merciful, and not to the president, no matter who he may be and what his personal attitude towards a figurant in a criminal case may be.


It is all the more so incomprehensible why after such an unwittingmessage the author hotly persuades us that Khodorkovsky is sittingjustly?

Personally, later on the entire book is dedicated to the premise ofhow good the president is and how bad Khodorkovsky with his team fromYUKOS is. As confederates the author takes for himself the followingpersons: «a knowing person», «a former employee of MENATEP», «thefounder of one of the collectives», «a lad from the Kuban», «one of thefemale participants in the project», «one of the loyal subjects», «onesuch lobbyist», and so forth. Surnames are not named. Go ahead and tryto check if these people exist in reality, or of they – are a figmentof Perekrest’s imagination.

And this just begs the question: if the power really is stronger andthe law really is stronger, then why is the author so cowardly thathe’s afraid to name his witnesses?

It is also demonstrative that the author, painting a collectiveportrait of the company YUKOS, resorts exclusively to such phrases:«the team fiddled around [химичила]», «the dons of his family»,«Khodorkovsky’s empire», «coordinator of financial flows»… That is, heintentionally creates an image of a mafia. Moreover, a ruthless mafia,because the lion’s share of the book is devoted to businessmen andbureaucrats, supposedly killed by Khodorkovsky’s and Nevzlin’s people.Of the most weighty, in the opinion of Perekrest, evidence of theinvolvement of the YUKOS managers in murders are the words of a certainRybin. In so doing, what are cited are not even Rybin’s own words, buta conclusion of the author: «Rybin is convinced that the contract forhis elimination came from the very top of YUKOS». And that’s all theevidence there is. Among the people this is called «one little old ladysaid…».

By the way, according to the witness of the lawyers of Lebedev,Pichugin, Alexanyan, Bakhmina, and Khodorkovsky, there’s a whole slewof such «evidence» in the case files of their clients.

Here’s a typical citation from the creativity of Perekrest:«Khodorkovsky makes money out of thin air. He comes up with dodgyschemes to get away from taxes, buys up enterprises on the cheap, thensells them, but already more expensively». Evidence in so doing – zero.But this doesn’t stop the author from making such a conclusion: «Let’stry and project the morals of «Menatep», YUKOS onto all of Russia:

The economy – built on fraudulent schemes for making money out of thin air.
National idea – getting around the law.
Internal life – tightest possible control by the Security service.
Argument in disputes with opponents – a bullet to the head.
Ideology – tremble, you worthless shit. …In reality the well-being ofKhodorkovsky was mixed up with two connected vessels: in one – oil,while in the other – blood».

The author rarely sinks down to specifics. Painting some kind ofschemes of supposed getting away from taxes, he, intentionally as itwere, doesn’t write anything concretely.
If you attentively delve into what is written in the book, it is highlyunlikely that you would understand what the point of these supposedlyunlawful business dealings and schemes was. Because it is known:neither were there criminal cases started up with respect to bank«Menatep», nor were there trials prior to the arrest of Lebedev andKhodorkovsky…

In principle, the entire book by Perekrest – that «famousjournalist» with his «excellent style», – is sheer propaganda, and notinvestigative journalism as such. The book is full of factualinaccuracies. One of them is such. Perekrest writes that «a tastymorsel from the loans-for-shares auctions of the year 1995 was thecompany YUKOS». In so doing, the author keeps silent about how in theyear 1995 YUKOS was a loss-making company with huge debts and wagearrears. So it couldn’t have been a tasty morsel. That’s why it hadbeen put up for loans-for-shares auction to begin with.

About these and other inaccuracies was said to the author on the airat «Radio Liberty» – there the presenters of the radio stationliterally smeared his position apart.

When I read the labor of the «famous journalist» with the «excellentstyle», I could not shake the feeling that the author had been given atask to paint a portrait of a loathsome character – the «greedyKhodorkovsky». Here’s how the author describes «don» Khodorkovsky: «Aplumpish, pasty young person with unkempt hair, with an excessiveappetite for devouring hors d’oeuvres at petty merchants’ parties…»

In so doing, the author placed at the end of the book a photo ofKhodorkovsky, where it can be clearly seen that Mikhail was neitherplumpish nor unkempt. Fuller than now, after five years of jail andcolony, – yes, that he was.

There are in the book openly false messages and examples. Here’swhat’s written about «Open Russia» – the foundation that YUKOS funded.The author writes: «The target audience – adolescents from 12 to 18years… The task – the formation of a positive informational fieldaround «open Russia». I [Grigory Pasko] was once at a seminar that wasconducted by this foundation. There were no adolescents there. And theobjective of the seminar was clearly not the formation of a halo aroundthe foundation. So even here the author lied…

Another example. Perekrest writes that when Khodorkovsky ended up inthe colony in Krasnokamensk, they «took to «chmurit’» [military slangterm for abuse–Trans.] him to the max – the impression is such that thezeks and the administration are competing to see who will be moresuccessful in this». Here every word – is a lie. I have actually spokenwith many former inmates who sat together with Mikhail Khodorkovsky inthe Krasnokamensk zone. Not one of them said a bad word about MikhailBorisovich – they all spoke only respectfully. That’s the first thing.Second, zeks never compete with the administration in anything, be itbad or good: that’s not “by understandings” [по понятиям – theunwritten social rules of the criminal world, which are strictlycomplied with under pain of death–Trans.]. Third, the administrationwould not have dared on its own to abuse Khodorkovsky: only by commandfrom above. Fourth, there’s no such word as «chmurit’» in Fenya[underworld dialect–Trans.]. That’s from the lexicon of drafteesoldiers…

Examples of lies, distortions, omissions, insinuations – amultitude. If they are meant for idiots, then all that’s left is tofeel sorry for Perekrest – the «famous journalist « with the «excellentstyle». Oh yes, I’ve also forgotten to mention to readers thatPerekrest – is a Companion of the Order «For personal courage». Seeinghow in his first book he takes cheap shots at a person sitting in jail,you immediately understand: this is a very courageous person indeed.Very. Just like the ones who contracted him to write this book.

Top image: The cover of the latest book about Khodorkovsky (photoreproduction by Grigory Pasko)

Lower image: Vladimir Perekrest, a “famous journalist with an excellent style”