Grigory Pasko: Hunger as a Method of Protest

pasko052010.jpg(The following article was written before Mikhail Khodorkovsky had concluded his hunger strike following a successful result. – Editor)

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has declared a hunger strike of indefinite duration. About this became known from a declaration by the ex-owner of YUKOS, addressed by him to Chairman of the Supreme Court of the RF Vyacheslav Lebedev. With the help of the hunger strike, Khodorkovsky wants to attract the attention of president Medvedev to violations of the law that representatives of the judicial power are allowing.

I well understand the feelings that Mikhail Borisovich experienced after judge Danilkin’s decision on denial in the satisfaction of a motion on changing the measure of restraint after they had recounted with pomp in the Russian mass information media about innovations lightening the punishment for economic crimes.

Once again it became clear that laws in Russia don’t apply inrelation to Khodorkovsky.
It is understandable that a hunger strike – this method of non-violentprotest – is a measure one has been forced into and in some measure anextreme one. It is being applied ever more frequently in today’sRussia. The measure, of course, is not new and is not the only one.198 such methods are enumerated in the book “The Politics of Non-ViolentAction” by Gene Sharp (1973).
In today’s world the hunger strike is widely used by protestors: airtraffic controllers, miners, all of Greece…
The resource reminds thatdeclaring a hunger strike — this is not declaring about suicide as asign of protest, but specifically a threat to appeal to higher powersfor justice. After all, death during a hunger strike — is an eventpostponed for a lengthy time.

We can recall that many have resorted to the hunger strike, includingMahatma Gandhi (with whom Khodorkovsky’s lead persecutor, comradePutin, so dreamed of talking about democracy, because, I guess, there’snobody else for him to do it with. Putin could talk with Khodorkovskytoo in principle, but he’s afraid of him).

The resource reminds of the sensational impact of hunger strikes incamps and jails, where the life of the inmates for the jailers truly didnot represent ( I would add to that: nor does it now represent) anyvalue, but they, nevertheless, did react to the declaration of a hungerstrike and even applied artificial feeding. «The only way these amazingfacts can be explained is that even in the dense souls of the jailersthere lived an ancient unconscious fear that this is a sacral action, inwhich higher powers, punishing the guilty, take direct part».

I do not believe in the perception of sacral actions by today’spragmatists in power. And I do not think that Medvedev is going tosomehow react personally to the fact of Khodorkovsky’s hunger strike.

But Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself can only be respected for declaring ahunger strike.