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The Khodorkovsky Letter

mbkbutton1109.jpgSRB has posted a translation of a letter from Mikhail Khodorkovsky which was leaked to Ekho Moskvy, in which he comments on the elections. The story made the news in France and Germany, but in English I haven’t seen anything besides this AFP article. I didn’t initially post anything about the letter because it was not intended to have been a public communication – just a private correspondence. Thus these words shouldn’t be interpreted as though Mikhail is issuing a statement. I fear there will be some misunderstanding over this as usual, and I see the point of the very first commenter, Kolya, who remarked that “The commenters here are a cynical crowd and Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a loaded name. However, if you ignore who wrote the letter and just judge it according to its merits, are there any valid criticisms to it?

Translation of Khodorkovsky letter from Sean’s Russia Blog:

******Thank you for the letter. I understand and share your opinion in regard to the elections. They (the elections) will obviously be a predictable victory for ER [United Russia]. Moreover, ER with its satellites will gain a constitutional majority in the Duma, but the chances are that the liberal parties will not completely collapse.Such is the present political reality.Does this mean that isn’t necessary to vote at all?I know Kasyanov in particular holds such an opinion but I cannot agree with him on this question.The bureaucracy, and today it is exactly our main opponent, feels fine in social apathy. For it this is a confirmation of its monopolistic right to rule the country according to its own discretion. That is to say that the readiness of the citizen to give his vote, his fate to a far off bureaucrat (chinovnik) testifies in their eyes to the utter uselessness of taking the people’s opinion into consideration.That is, who votes “with their feet”, still to a large degree is who votes for ER, and encourages the bureaucratic class toward despotism and contempt for the “herd.”Therefore it is imperative that you vote not for those who evoke contempt, it’s better to vote for any of the small parties. This will be Your own clear and personal gesture: I am a citizen, I have the right to vote and will, I am not a slave and I am not cattle.Sincerely,Mikhail Khodorkovsky