More than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attempt to build a democracy in its place, Russia has once again become an authoritarian state. The same inability to build democratic institutions plagued the leaders of the February Revolution of 1917, which led to the Bolsheviks gaining power later that year.
Russian authoritarianism has profound consequences not just for Russian citizens, but also for neighboring countries and the rest of the world. Still burdened by a “besieged fortress” mentality, the Kremlin pursues a foreign policy aimed at achieving a “balance of forces” between Moscow and the West.… Seguir leyendo »
Ten years have gone by, 10 years — to the day — that I have spent in the jails, prisons and camps of the new Russia.
Much has changed. My oldest son now has his own baby daughter, who is not a baby any more — my first grandchild, whom I have never seen.
My youngest sons, whom I left as little four-year-old boys, are now taller than I am and on the threshold of adulthood. My daughter is close to graduating from college. My wife, who has been supporting me all these years, is alone at home now. My parents are already very old, and their health leaves much to be desired.… Seguir leyendo »
It is a busy year for presidential elections. While there will be hotly contested battles for the presidencies of France and the United States, only in my home country, Russia, does the outcome of the presidential election seem a foregone conclusion. But whereas we might be reasonably sure of the result, we should not assume that there is little at stake.
For Western eyes, the neat swap of titles from Prime Minister to President Vladimir Putin — suitably circumventing Russia’s maximum-two-consecutive-term rule — may appear to suggest business as usual in the closed world of Kremlin politics.
But that was not the view taken by many Russians who were insulted by the self-asserting proclamation of immovable presidential power stretching over the next decade and more.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the wealthiest man in Russia as head of the Yukos oil company, was found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Mr. Khodorkovsky, first arrested in October 2003, was already serving an eight-year sentence on charges of fraud. The new sentence includes the earlier one, so Mr. Khodorkovsky could remain in prison until 2017.
Both trials have been denounced as political in the West, where Mr. Khodorkovsky is widely seen as a victim of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule. In Russia, many people still chafe at the vast wealth that a handful of “oligarchs” amassed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and view the prosecution of Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
Excerpts from the final statement by the former chairman of the Yukos oil company at the conclusion on Monday of his 20-month trial in Moscow on charges of embezzling oil from his own company. Translated by Stephan Lang.
Looking back, I can recall October 2003, my last day of freedom. A few weeks after my arrest, I was informed that President Putin had decided I would “slurp gruel” for eight years. Then it was hard to believe. Seven years have passed. Seven years — a long stretch of time, especially incarcerated. All of us have had time to reassess and rethink many things.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week I held my fourth hunger strike since being jailed on trumped-up charges in 2003. I did not do this to raise awareness of how my own legal case has been unfairly handled. The courts’ actions have made it clear that I am going to be imprisoned no matter what. But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has taken the initiative to fight corruption in law enforcement in our country, should know how his efforts are being undercut by his own officials.
The rise of corruption leads me to an inescapable conclusion: While world leaders are proving capable of addressing nuclear terrorism, one of the most difficult issues facing the international community, they still must do more to address such evils as corruption, which holds entire peoples and countries hostage.… Seguir leyendo »