May 31, 2005
I woke up to the news today that Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Garry Kasparov wrote this back in March:
The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has little in common with the prosecution of corrupt businessmen in the U.S. He is being punished for trying to free himself and his corporation, the Yukos energy company, from state pressure. He wanted to follow the law, not the Kremlin’s corrupt edicts, and for this he was arrested. Imagine a Western court hearing a case in which the defendant’s lawyer was searched on her way out of visiting her client in prison, with all of her papers seized and admitted as evidence! This is business as usual in Mr. Putin’s Russia.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky will probably not get an Amnesty International campaign in his honor. They’re too busy condemning America (America, of all places!) for human rights abuses. He will not get the usual attention of leftists who think that criticizing Putin is somehow a reflection on Bush, because he is rich and because his business is energy. But we shouldn’t forget him as he is, more than just an unfortunate man caught up in a corrupt system, a symbol of the deep problems Russia has, and will continue to have, until they let go of Communism and live without the totalitarian system to which they’ve become accustomed.
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