EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Andrei Sakharov Was Dissident, But What About Oligarch Khodorkovsky?

Posted by Info on 29/12/2010

Foreign Policy magazine in its article ’Khodorkovsky – the Billionaire Dissident’ showes an admirable level of nuance achieved by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker, who write:
The idea of a dissident with overseas bank accounts and an army of lawyers and publicists writing blogs and Twitter feeds on his behalf from safe quarters in London and Washington seems paradoxical.

As a neo-perestroika liberal whose respect for Sakharov has been matched by a disdain for Khodorkovsky. Vadim Nikitin admits to being very uncomfortable with such a comparison. One man was a feted scientist who threw away his status and comfort to fight for justice, while the other was a billionaire who made his money in shady ways and then fought for his own political power.

Glasser and Baker acknowledge: ” Khodorkovsky was no Solzhenitsyn. He may have been headstrong, but what he cared about most was acquiring money and power…”
By age 30, he was buying state assets through manipulated auctions. He acquired control of Yukos, then the country’s second-largest oil producer, for a paltry $309 million in a 1995 auction run, conveniently enough, by his own Menatep bank.

Indeed, if for Sakharov, imprisonment was the punishment for his ideals
….for Khodorkovsky? In his first 40 years, Khodorkovsky had been many things — a hustler and a banker, an oilman and a philanthropist — but never a political thinker or writer. Putin has turned Khodorkovsky into both while his imprisonment.

….denouncing the liberals who had run Russia in the 1990s — and whom he had supported with millions of dollars. They were “dishonest or inconsistent,” “effete bohemians” who “cheated 90 percent of the population” and “turned a blind eye” to the corruption of privatization. They should feel “a sense of shame.” As for himself and his fellow oligarchs, “We were accomplices in their misdeeds and lies.”

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