Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Russian Khodorkovsky Is Not ‘Prisoner Of Conscience’

Posted by Info on 23/05/2011

In March, 45 prominent Russian writers, actors, and journalists sent an open letter to Amnesty International asking it to consider Khodorkovsky and Lebedev prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International has ruled not to recognize former Russian oil-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his associate Platon Lebedev as prisoners of conscience.

Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil giant chief, and Lebedev, were detained in 2003 and found guilty of tax evasion two years later, receiving eight-year sentences.In December 2010, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev faced additional fraud charges and their prison terms were extended through 2017.
Opposition and human rights activists in Russia consider the case against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to be politically motivated.

An author of the letter to Amnesty International, St. Petersburg writer Nina Katerli, harshly criticized the decision made by the human rights watchdog, calling it “a betrayal of not only Khodorkovsky but all political prisoners in Russia”.

But Tatyana Lokshina from Human Rights Watch, explained that Amnesty International considers all of those in jail who were imprisoned for defending their viewpoints by peaceful means to be prisoners of conscience.The case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev might be politically motivated but it does not mean that the former oil tycoons are prisoners of conscience.

Denis Krivoshein, of Amnesty International’s Moscow office said that a prisoner of conscience is a person who was sentenced for his or her views or beliefs. Anyone who might be involved in wrongdoing or even crimes, but whose case was launched only for political reasons, can be called a political prisoner but not a prisoner of conscience.

comment by jorjo:
Not such an outlandish decision on part of the Amnesty international, Khodorkovsky has become something of a political symbol since his arrest and imprisonment but he is not a political dissident per se, such as Andrei Sakharov or Aleksander Solzhenitzyn were. He has become a prisoner/dissident by force. One has to look at his early rise to influence through the Komsomol ranks and then early business dealings, most notably how YUKOS came into existence in the first place. Khodorkovsky is simply one of the oligarchs who had the misfortune to fall of favor with Kremlin for his political aspirations. Had he not have those aspirations, he would have been in the same group as Abramovich, Deripaska and Poltoranin and judged accordingly. So let’s not make a saint of him.

2 Responses to “Russian Khodorkovsky Is Not ‘Prisoner Of Conscience’”

  1. […] declared Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev “prisoners of conscience.” after the first statemen to refuse this label of “ prisoners of conscience”. What is going on in Amnesty international, Ms Nicola […]

  2. jake augustin said

    It’s possible that his arrest has to do with his political activities, but on what basis he should be called a prisoner of conscience. That’s by itself sheds some doubts about amnesty international

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