Kommersant on Putin’s Doublespeak

merkelputin031208.jpgThere has been a lot of interesting discussion over the comments made by Vladimir Putin during the press conference following his last meeting as president with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but what really caught everyone’s attention was what he said about presidential pardons with regard to the political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The following is a translated excerpt from a Kommersant editorial which provides an interesting interpretation of the statement.

….Nor were there any illusions concerning the independence of Kosovo. But the attention of all of progressive humanity was now riveted to the third question, that supposedly had been taken off the agenda. Mr. Putin could have not noticed it. But, as it turned out, he couldn’t:

Now as concerns persons convicted in previous years for committed crimes — for corruption, for crimes against the person. One of these figurants you mentioned. But if one just imagines to oneself that the procedure envisioned by the legislation of the Russian Federation will be adhered to, the question of pardon is found in the competence of the head of state — the president of the Russian Federation.”This reply gave an opportunity for the agency Reuters, for example, to issue a “news flash”, that began with the words “The president of Russia does not rule out the possibility of a pardon for Mikhail Khodorkovsky”.In actuality, Mr. Putin with this reply, in my opinion, on the contrary, categorically ruled out this possibility, because it is clear that if one does everything by the procedures envisioned by the legislation of the Russian Federation, then Mikhail Khodorkovsky not only will not get out earlier than the first term projected for him, but indeed in actuality may receive a second one, because corruptional crimes and crimes against the person must by punished with all the severity of precisely this legislation.And now these words look like a directive to Mr. Medvedev. In this sense, the journalist rendered, alas, an ursine [“Medvedian”: the Russian word for “bear” is “medved’”. In Russian, an “ursine favor” is one from which things get even worse than before.—Trans.] favor to Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Dmitry Medvedev will not be able now to ignore these publicly stated words.“If there exists a possibility of pardon, then we could only welcome this”, somehow not very confidently pronounced Angela Merkel.She certainly understood that in this situation, the main thing is not to harm and that the fate of any excess words in this regard could be extremely disquieting, just like the fate of the one in whose support they are being spoken.