It says more about Putin than about MBK: not only has Putin kept a man in prison for ten years for nothing, he, the brute, has also forced a confession out of him.
We should not forget that in the relationship between these these two characters there is much that is personal. In their Shakespearean drama the outcome of the plot still lies ahead. In this situation a plea for clemency in no way amounts to a capitulation.
When one man sits on the throne, and the other in a dungeon, everything is clear – one is a tyrant, and the other a martyr. When a prisoner dies in a torture chamber or emerges into freedom with head unbowed, not repenting, everything is also clear: the tyrant has lost his authority and is powerless against the power of the spirit. Both of them understand that.
But a confession extracted by force tells us nothing. The final result depends on how MBK conducts himself in future. If, like Galileo who exclaimed:”And yet it moves!”, he in some form disavows his confession, does not express thanks to Putin and says something, for example, in defence of the Bolotnaya prisoners or the thousands of businessmen who have been jailed by the lawlessness of the Cheka, then his persecutor will be shamed even further.
But if he puts his lips to the hand of the man “who granted him freedom”, gives us to understand, like Orwell’s hero, that the “re-education ” has worked and that now “he loves Big Brother “, then Putin will have something on which to congratulate himself. Then he will really have won.
Update: in a new post written after Khodorkovsky’s Berlin press conference on December 22, Goldfarb adds:
The key passage in MBK’s statement: “I don’t want to take a completely open position on many issues. I have won the right not to say what I do not think. That is worth a great deal.”
He will not sing Putin’s praises. But he has not won the right to say what he thinks of him. Well, one cannot judge him for that, in his position he was entitled to make compromises. But the expectations that he would be a Sakharov or a Mandela have not been realized.
It’s exactly 50 years since the poet Joseph Brodsky was attacked in the pages of Vechernii Leningrad as “A Pseudo-literary Parasite”, in an article that led to his trial, imprisonment and exile.
Reading Wednesday’s intervention by Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin in the case of the 30 environmental activists now facing altered, though still disproportionate, charges of “hooliganism” as a sign that Moscow is now fully in command, an op ed article in Helsingin Sanomat concludes that “the whole incident has now become highly political, and before long a political solution to it will be sought.”
Mikhail Kosenko, who has already spent a year in a remand prison awaiting trial and is accused of using violence against an OMON policeman during the May 2012 Bolotnaya Square demonstration – even though the policeman in question does not remember the incident and denies that Kosenko hurt him – has been sentenced by a Moscow court to indefinite forced psychiatric treatment.
More details here, from Joshua Yaffa in the New Yorker.
Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova’s complaint about an earlier denial of parole has been rejected by a court in Mordovia.
Maria Alyokhina has refused further participation in the parole hearing at the Perm Regional Court, which she has been attending via videoconference from the remand center where she is being held, claiming that the proceedings are a travesty of justice and her rights are being fundamentally violated. As a sign of her non-participation, she turned her back to the camera. Her request for parole has now been denied by the court.
In a sign that the Kremlin may be having some second thoughts, Alexey Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov have been released from custody pending their appeal, with travel restrictions.
In Eurasia Outlook, Petr Topychkanov writes of two points that may underlie the effects of this decision:
the unexpected consequences of a political act, undertaken without the proper understanding of the rapid political, social, and economic changes that are taking place. The second one is that trying to secure their political position by means of primarily pressure or violence, political actors can weaken their position.
Khodorkovsky Center reports that Maria Alyokhina has been beaten by guards in the remand center in Solikamsk where she is currently being held, for refusing to be transferred to another prison without access to documents. More details from RAPSI.
Update 1: In a statement to Novaya Gazeta, Alyokhina’s lawyer Oksana Darova has denied that she saw her client being beaten.
Update 2: Alyokhina has written a letter to Novoye Vremya from the remand center in Solikamsk.
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been found guilty of embezzlement, in a political trial aimed at silencing him.
See also these links:
Sentence is 5 years.