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Nemstov: Khodorkovsky was Putin’s Turning Point

An important quote from Jane Armstrong’s dispatch from Moscow in the Globe and Mail:

Presidential candidate Boris Nemstov remembers the exact day Mr. Putin abandoned all pretense of being a democrat. It was Oct. 23, 2003, when police arrested Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky for fraud. One of Russia’s richest businessmen, Mr. Khodorkovsky used his wealth to fund opposition parties in Russia. Mr. Khodorkovsky’s arrest was seen as a sign that Mr. Putin would tolerate no dissent in Russia. Mr. Khodorkovsky was sentenced to nine years in a Siberian jail in what many describe as a show trial. “After this case, [Mr. Putin] changed completely,” said Mr. Nemstov, himself a former Kremlin insider who was a deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin. He said Mr. Putin became “the bronze Putin,” a ruler who jailed oligarchs, harassed journalists, criticized the West and seized control of television stations. “He destroyed the legal system. He established absolute control. He forgot about the constitution, human rights, everything,” Mr. Nemstov said.