Khodorkovsky’s Changing Narrative

Fred Weir has a very interesting take on the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky published in the Christian Science Monitor:

“It looks like Putin is pathologically afraid of Khodorkovsky,” says Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who is now a leader of the opposition movement Solidarnost. “The longer he stays in jail, the harder they try to punish him, the more Khodorkovsky becomes a leader of Russian public life.”

There are two starkly different narratives as to why the Kremlin keeps pummeling Khodorkovsky, a soft-spoken former leader of the Soviet Young Communist League, who learned through prison bars this week that he’s just become a grandfather. Yet, oddly enough, ardent supporters of Putin and staunch Khodorkovsky defenders all appear to agree that the one-time multibillionaire was singled out by the Kremlin for exemplary punishment due to his political aspirations.

“Of course it was a selective approach, but the prosecution of Khodorkovsky is not something artificial. He is guilty of all those things he’s charged with, and much more,” insists Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected Duma deputy with United Russia, which is led by Putin. “Khodorkovsky was chosen because he tried to transform his money into political power. That didn’t just constitute opposition to Putin, but to the state itself.”