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Zeks for Khodorkovsky

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A phone call in the middle of the night

Grigory Pasko, journalist

Recently, I received a phone call in the middle of the night from Andrei Volozhanin – a former zek in the Krasnokamensk colony, who was once assigned the unusual task of overseeing the work of the former billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky at a packaging plant in colony #10. And here is how this middle-of-the-night conversation went:

– Grisha, good morning!
– Good night!
– Sorry, I’d forgotten it’s still night over where you are. I’ve got a question: they’re saying that they’ve sentenced Khodorkovsky to 20 years…
– I don’t think so, I think I would have heard about this if they had.
– Okay, I’ll call back later and we’ll talk some more. Or you call me.

Of course I’ll call him back. And quite soon. But what should I tell him, this former zek, who though interested in the fate of Khodorkovsky, has no access to internet.  With the sparse offerings of Russian television, I realized that Volozhanin, like the majority of Russians, is completely in the dark about what is happening in the trial.

To bring him up to speed on the trial of the century, I could perhaps quote lawyer Yuri Schmidt, who says that the process “not only contradicts theletter of the law and the principles of justice, this contradictscommon sense in general. This is not even a trial, not an adversarialprocess. This is some kind of inquisitional trial.

Perhaps it would be more important that I share some words from Mikhail’s mother,Marina Filippovna, who has said “What kind of trial is this? This is not a trial.This is some kind of idiotic criminal script, written in advance, thatthey’re continuing to implement. I have the feeling that theythemselves don’t understand what they’re reading.

These words – the words of the mother – the former zek Volozhaninwill believe unreservedly.  He knows about the injustice felt deep in the souls of our mothers.

But in general, an interesting picture is emerging. If thefirst trial of Khodorkovsky did not evoke so much sympathy for theformer head of YUKOS, then the second trial is creating a whole new unexpected class of supporters, including even those appointed to watch over him like Volozhanin, along with the traditional elements opposing these elite interests entrenched in part of the government.

As for this rumor about the 20-year sentence circulating out there among the former zeks, who the hell knows. In our fatherland, anything is possible.