Writing in the London Review of Books, New York author, editor, and literati-at-large Keith Gessen reviews Richard Sakwa’s book on the Yukos affair and the two trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, sketching a rather comprehensive portrait. There are some unflattering moments and citations of irresistible unproven rumors, but you couldn’t accuse Gessen of not doing some homework on this one. Here he encapsulates the seemingly everlasting quality of the Khodorkovsky story in Russian politics:
No one doubts that the verdict in this case, when it eventually comes, will be delivered from on high, without much reference to the facts. Not only do the charges overlap with some of the previous charges (an ‘odd’ circumstance, as Obama pointed out before his recent visit to Moscow), but some are so absurd as to be almost metaphysical. This is, of course, partly the point. Since his arrest six years ago the state has been trying to explain to Khodorkovsky that it can do with him what it chooses, under any pretext it chooses. His refusal to understand this simple fact has been, for six years, one of the central dramas of Russian political life.