Not the right look Grigory Pasko, journalist Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. Once upon a time, back in the days when I was a military journalist, on one of the ships of the Pacific Fleet I observed the following picture: An admiral stepped onto the ship’s deck. He was met by the ship’s deputy commander for the political unit (there used to be a position like that in those days, simply referred to as “zampolit” [an abbreviation equivalent to “DepPolit” in English—Trans.]). I knew the zampolit (let’s call him Anatoly) well – he was a principled and decent young man. The admiral immediately started to rant, the moment he set foot on deck: you’re doing this all wrong, and this is bad too… Anatoly explained that the ship was in port for a major overhaul, all life-support systems had been turned off, and therefore there was only so much that could be done to keep things shipshape. Realizing that he had been in error, the admiral thought for a moment, and then suddenly turned and asked the zampolit: “And why isn’t your hair cut?” Anatoly, apparently, hadn’t expected such a radical transition from one topic to the next, and he hesitated with his answer. The admiral went off on all cylinders: he now howled at the officer for not having his hair cut. He had already completely forgotten about the disorder on the ship. This ability of some officials to seize upon something that has nothing whatsoever to do with either the matter at hand or with the law continues to – no, not amaze me, but to shock me. Photo: FSIN general Oleg Filimonov (source)
Recently, I heard the following dialogue on Echo Moskvy between journalists and chiefs of the Russian GULAG, that is FSIN – the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments. I offer an excerpt to your attention.
Journalist: How did you assess the fact that they did not grant Mikhail Khodorkovsky conditional early release on parole?O. Filimonov [chief of the FSIN legal department]: Here the situation is a tiny bit delicate for us. The court decided, and to somehow cast doubt, to comment, seems not very convenient. But the fact is that, according to the responses of our employees, he doesn’t deserve it.Journalist: That is, he has not stepped onto the path of correction?O. Filimonov: Yes, there aren’t such gross violations of the regime there, but…Journalist: So what, does he talk back or somehow manifest this in some way?O. Filimonov: As they have told me, although he does not allow gross violations of the regime, but with his whole look he demonstrates a negative attitude towards everything that is taking place with him. [Italics mine—G.P.] And there are no grounds to assert that he has made some kind of conclusions for himself.
Filimonov, himself, probably, not desiring this, admitted that they had denied Khodorkovsky parole not on the basis of the law, but merely because someone (Filimonov, Putin or Sechin?) didn’t like the look on Khodorkovsky’s face. Not the right look. Not the ingratiating look of someone trying to humble himself and curry favor. The look of a person who has not been broken and not been crushed. The fact is that neither the Criminal Code nor the Corrections Code [known ominously as the Criminal-Execution Code in Russian—Trans.] of the Russian Federation has such a concept as “demonstration with one’s look of a negative attitude towards unlawful deprivation of liberty”. And nowhere is it said that such a non-existent concept can serve as grounds for denying a person parole.The phrase “according to the responses of our employees, he doesn’t deserve it” also does not withstand any kind of criticism. The fact is that representatives of the administration of a place of deprivation of liberty are only obligated to submit to the court a character reference of an inmate. And even this only in the event if the court requests it. And the adoption of a decision remains exclusively in the competence of the court. But to speak on the air passages that knowingly have nothing to do with laws – that takes skill. You’ve got to not have respect not only for the laws, but also for yourself in the post you occupy.In the opinion of Filimonov, Khodorkovsky has to show every day “with his whole look” that he likes sitting in jail, that he’s delighted to slurp his balanda [the thin grayish swill that passes for food day in and day out in Russian prisons—Trans.], that he is guilty of everything and is ready to repent every hour day and night for something he didn’t do, that he is at any time ready to write a denunciation against himself and to confess to the murder of the tsarevich Dmitry and to participation in the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.By the way, I’m really interested – has Filimonov ever seen even one prisoner in our dear GULAG who was satisfied with his existence in this system? Who “with his whole look demonstrates” a positive attitude towards camp/jail – FSIN and towards comrade general Filimonov personally?As a person who sat three years in jail and camp, I can surmise that there are no such people. But maybe if you were to lock up Filimonov and those who locked Khodorkovsky up – they just might appear.