Happy Birthday, Svetlana Bakhmina

bakhmina.jpgThe following open letter is making the rounds of the Russian blogosphere these days. As October 13 is Svetlana Bakhmina’s birthday, we thought we’d do our part and publish an exclusive translation of it here on our blog to help bring attention to the outrageous plight of this innocent person. Sep. 25th, 2008 04:13 pm APOLOGIES FOR APPEALING TO YOU …Dear friends, I have never asked, but now I’m asking: help me to disseminate [this letter] so as to increase the chances that it will get to the addressee. If, of course, this text does not enter into contradiction with your life position. I will not get into discussions. If you want to express dirt about Sveta or to tell me that a thief should be sitting in jail, go take a hike. Sorry. ABOUT SVETLANA BAKHMINA Esteemed President of the Russian Federation! Esteemed user of the Internet Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev! Apologies for distracting you from the affairs of state. I wanted to write an official letter, but it, naturally, will not get beyond a low-level employee of the Administration, while writing a letter in the name of this same employee is something I am fully capable of doing myself. All the arguments are completely understandable. But hope for a miracle does not leave me, and therefore I write nevertheless.

I write about the fate of my school classmate Svetlana Petrovna Bakhmina, born in the year 1969, previously occupying the post of deputy head of the legal department of the company YUKOS, and currently (or because of this?) being an inmate at IK-14, which is in the settlement of Partsa of the Republic of Mordovia.There is no need to voice the details, the case was prominent: theft and all that kind of thing there.I am not a lawyer, unlike you, Dmitry Anatolievich; it is precisely for this reason that I do not have the right to comment on the trial itself: there would not be any substantiated arguments, while being well read and personal impressions won’t get me very far.My arguments are precisely of a personal character. I am simply – for my own. You don’t foresake your own, after all, no matter what, right?I studied with Svetlana in one class. And, using the terminology of the school character references of our time, I do not know a more honest, fair, and principled person than Sveta. Some would even make fun of her refusal to bend.It is reasonable to object that 20 years of living could have changed her, like all of us. After all, an entire epoch disappeared…However, I assure you, for some reason she did not change one bit. Apparently, if you’ve got this internal pillar, it can’t be bent. But you can – break it, and it is just this that I fear very much right now.This girl, Dmitry Anatolievich, was born in a simple family – a shop assistant mother, a drinking father… She got into the law department at MGU [Moscow State University] on her own – without bribes, without tutors. Through her mind and labor. Then on account of these same qualities she rose up to that position because of which everything then happened: deputy head of the legal department of a huge and successful oil company; a company the future of which looked completely irridescent. We were frightfully happy for her. And couldn’t understand at all why she, with a not-small salary, drives around on an old niner [Zhiguli model 9, a modest Russian car, regarded as unsuitable for anybody with any status at all–Trans.]. It turns out she was repaying the loan for her apartment (having bounced around rented ones with a small child before this). This took place at that moment, by the way, when she was supposed to be, according to the investigation’s story, rapturously dividing up billions stolen from Tomskneft with her accomplices. But I digress.Also – we didn’t know then, by the way – she wanted children very much. At first there were difficulties; then Grisha was born. Then Fedya. It was very heavy. You don’t know how strenuously the laywers of big companies work. And at home there were the young kids, to whom she truldy did give ALL of her time. And also because the kids aren’t simple, with problems and sickly.I won’t go into detail right now, so it wouldn’t look glittery, about how she also transferred money to stranger – orphanage – children from every paycheck. At any rate, she herself never mentioned this. And then what happened, happened: the accusation, the trial, the multitude of appeals, the correctional colony.7 years – is a monstrous term; they sometimes give less for homicide. Then they shaved off half a year – had they taken off a year, she could have, as a mother of minor children, gotten a suspended sentence…Then one after the other they rejected requests about deferment. To human arguments they brought juridical ones and imputed “especial danger to society”. And in the meantime the younger child forgot what she looks like (this is true). He was three years old when they took Sveta. And on 1 September he went to school. While the older one thought that she had died.For us here time flies like mad; but for her there, in the colony – it probably drags slowly from visitation to visitation; from phone call home to letter… Already half the term, think I. Or – STILL ONLY half?They filed for conditional-early release: the first time the court denied it, reasoning the existence of demerits. But the penalties had been lifted officially! And indeed they were for – the fact that she had not immediately understood petty everyday prison rules. The instance above indicated at the groundlessness of the denial and returned [the application] for a second examination. And here once again – the same answer, the same arguments.It is frightening to imagine that there’s still the same amount left; that the children will grow up without a mother.True, the regime is general; lengthy visitations are permitted…In general, Dmitry Anatolievich, now she is on top of this also in the sixth month of pregnancy. The court knows about this. But the gravity of Svetlana Bakhmina’s crime is so great…Esteemed Dmitry Anatolievich. I am aware that the courts here in our country are an independent instance. But I am convinced that by Your will – it is completely possible to return a mother to her children.Whether she is guilty or not – is unimportant now. In any case, she is punished more than sufficiently. And has already served as a demonstrative example. But – it is the children first and foremost who are being punished. Both the two boys, who are living a fourth year without her, and the one who is yet to be born…We had hoped so many times over these years that everything would end any moment now. That our Sveta would return. Each time our hopes were not justified. Please, let a miracle occur. Be, please, merciful: release Svetlana home.I think the degree of public danger of Svetlana is greatly exaggerated.I understand that this is very naive. And yet: please, do this. Please. No arguments other than the fact that she is my friend and that I, as they say, am “sticking my neck out, fool that I am”. It’s just that it seems to me that, besides the law executed by the court, there are human and Divine laws. And they – are more important.Thank you for your attention.