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An Appeal by Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The following statement was issued by Mikhail Khodorkovsky on April 18, 2014:

Yesterday, restrictions were announced denying entry to Ukraine for “Russian males from 16 to 60 years of age.”

The desire to protect one’s country against mercenaries in the context of an undeclared war is understandable and lawful. However, in real life, this decision and controversial incidents at the border checkpoints that have been reported by eyewitnesses have scared dozens of thousands of ordinary people and are forcing them to change their personal, family plans.

This is not right, especially in anticipation of Easter.

I am appealing to the Ukrainian authorities asking them to address this newly-arisen problem.

I ask those who sympathize with Ukraine and its people to support my appeal.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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FCO Human Rights Report Highlights Ongoing Violations in Russia

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office released its 2013 Human Rights Report today, featuring detailed information about ongoing violations taking place in the Russian Federation last year.

The report, which refers to Russia as “a country of concern,” highlighted the continuing deterioration of human rights, citing the Bolotnaya case, LGBT issues, and the crackdown against NGOs under the foreign agent law.

“The rule of law in Russia remained inconsistent and arbitrarily applied,” the report reads. “Concerns about the impartiality of courts were ongoing, and prison conditions remained poor.”

The report also noted the release of political prisoners such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pussy Riot, and some Bolotnaya detainees, but concluded that amnesties were not a substitute for reform.

“Mikhail Khodorkovsky received a presidential pardon and was released after ten years in prison. But this does not alleviate concerns about the independence of Russia’s judicial system,” the report reads.

The report noted that FCO representatives spoke out publicly on human rights in Russia, and engaged in high-level lobbying on a number of issues, including a statement by Minister for Europe David Lidington welcoming the release of Khodorkovsky and calling upon the Russian authorities to strengthen the rule of law and promote independence of the judiciary.

According to the FCO, Russia received 129 violation judgements at the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, more than any other State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Read the full Russia section of the 2013 FCO Human Right Report here.

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky: My Fellow Prisoners

Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s collection of short stories ‘Prison’s People’ has been published by the London publishing house Penguin Books. This special edition of his prison writing entitled ‘My fellow prisoners’ is Khodorkovsky’s first book published in English. The book contains 21 short stories written by Khodorkovsky during the 10 years he spent in Russia’s labour camps and outlines portraits of some of the prisoners he met during that time.

Continue reading

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Sergei Guriev: It is not safe to return to Russia

Sergei Guriev, the Russian economist and former rector of the New Economic School in Moscow, who immigrated to France in the summer 2013 in the wake of interrogations by the Investigative Committee regarding the Khodorkovsky case, was interviewed by The Voice of America.

An excerpt from his dialog with VOA correspondent, Danila Galperovich, can be read below.

D. Galperovich: When we spoke last year in June, right after your departure, then, if I may say so, we discussed political reasons for your move. It will soon be one year since that conversation. What, in your opinion, is changing in Russia, from an outside point of view?

S. Guriev: I think that the most important changes have happened very recently – with the Crimea crisis. The annexation of Crimea is a new level of unpredictability. It was something that no one could predict. I remember that Putin was saying, two weeks before the annexation of Crimea, that there were no talks about invasion. Moreover, the release of Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot probably wouldn’t happen now. Therefore it means that the Crimea crisis was a totally unexpected event.

The second change is the slowdown in economic growth, as I said before, to the point of nought or even below. It is obvious that if, instead of reforms, the country heads towards isolation, then this is what should be expected. However, it happened too fast.

For these reasons it can be unpleasantly concluded that there isn’t any thaw happening. On the contrary, increased repressions and the removal of restrictions on any propaganda can be expected. In this context, it is hard to imagine that in the coming months the situation will be positive for personal and political freedom appreciators.

D. Galperovich: Do I understand correctly, that, given your description of the changes in the situation with internal politics, there is no option of your return to Russia?

S. Guriev: It is not just the situation. The fact is that nothing has changed in my relationship with the Russian law enforcement agencies. Despite the fact that Khodorkovsky was pardoned, the case was not closed – the case is being prolonged. Even after Khodorkovsky’s pardon, the case was extended once again, a month ago. This means that nobody is going to close the case, nobody is going to apologise to the ‘Yukos case’ victims, and especially to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.

In this sense, I have no reasons to think that it is safe for me to return to Russia. I won’t risk my freedom. I think that it is better to live abroad than lose my freedom in Russia. In the near future, I, unfortunately, won’t be able to go to Russia.

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Khodorkovsky’s ‘Prison’s People’ Book To Be Published In Russia

A selection of short stories written by Mikhail Khodorkovsky during his time in prison will be published in May 2014 by the publishing house Alpina Publisher.

In August 2011 Khodorkovsky began publishing his stories in Russian magazine, The New Times. In October 2013, 17 of these stories were published in France. The opening remarks for the French edition were written by Mikhail’s children – Pavel and Anastasia.

Today, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, revealed  one of these stories, ‘The Junkie’, that hasn’t previously been published. ‘The Junkie’ is the story of Oleg, a drug addict, who wasted his life on drugs and ended up in prison at the age of 30. Oleg’s character is quiet and responsive, but he flatly refuses to be pushed around. “One day we ended up cleaning the snow together. We started talking…

Prison’s People offers an insight into Russian prison life through such stories.

Read the story in full in Russian

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