As you may have already read in the media, earlier today Russian prosecutors presented new charges against my client, the political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The most notable coverage of this development comes from the French daily Le Monde, which comments that Khodorkovsky’s request for early release is a test for the president (I hope to post a translation soon). Until then, some of my thoughts… In several conversations I had with the legal team today, it struck me that we are witnessing a collapse of rationality in Russia’s legal system, highlighted not only by our case, but also with regard to the TNK-BP disputes or even the inability to deliver justice following a simple traffic accident (as recently reported by Mark Franchetti). We are watching Russia needlessly hurt herself and her future prospects.
We are often told that those who dispute the conduct of the prosecutors and judges are somehow “against” Russia, and that these individuals act out of patriotism for a renewed, strong Russia. But the truth is that there are a few men in the Kremlin who are actively engaged in defeating the interests of the Russian people, and causing untold damage to the country. I am not speaking of the new administration, which has stirred the hopes of many with the recognition of the legal nihilism which has befallen Russia’s institutional development, but those who have abused their power and flaunted the law.I am speaking about the clique of officials who have captured the state in their own interests. I speak of those who wrap themselves in the Russian flag, disguising their ill-gotten personal gains as public goods. Those who each day chip away at the hopes and dreams of those who believed that the 21st century could belong to a Russia. A new Russia of such self-confidence that it could open its airwaves to all variety of voices, a country whose institutions would finally become responsive to citizens, and whose prisons, after hundreds of years, could finally be made free of all political prisoners. Instead a cancerous bureaucratic growth has gone unchecked, wearing the mask of nationalism to greedily seize the rights, liberty, and opportunities from the sovereign citizens. How many more organizations like Memorial will we need to purge these criminal individuals from positions of power?I can’t help but feel that those who truly want Russia to succeed as a part of Europe, and not apart from Europe, need to make their voices heard. The Khodorkovskys, Sutyagins, Danilovs, and countless others need to be freed, and the gulag permanently consigned to the dustbin of history.