Khodorkovsky Comments Ahead of Bolotnaya Trial: “We are not trash but citizens of our country”

February 20, 2014

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has issued a public statement in support of the defendants in the Bolotnaya Case, who will face trial on Friday February 21, 2014. The defendants were peaceful protesters arrested during the protests of May 6, 2012. Khodorkovsky’s statement can be read in Russian here, and a translation can be read below:

“The final act of a true drama unfolds before our eyes. During the show trial on February 21 the judge will make a decision on the Bolotnaya Case. Almost no one doubts that the verdict will be vindictive and cruel. The prosecutor asked for the punishment of up to 6 years of imprisonment to be given to seven men and one young woman. Perhaps Judge Nikishina will shorten the terms slightly, but this is not important.

What is important is that the history of Russia will have one more shameful page about innocent people being held hostage, and we did not do anything to prevent it. During peaceful protests more than once we have heard “One for all and all for one!” Now is the time to confirm this slogan and to prove that we are not trash but citizens of our country.

The protest march of May 6, 2012 was attended by thousands of people. The campaign in support of the Bolotnaya Case defendants has a few dozen supporters. Even the behaviour of bailiffs, who do not let the audience into the courtroom, proves that such support is necessary. Believe me when I say that your presence at both Yukos trials and your unabated interest over these ten-plus years greatly helped Platon Lebedev and me. Solidarity is needed not only by those who are behind bars, but also by us. This is just like what Pastor Niemöller, who knew first-hand what persecution for your beliefs is, said:

“First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Social Democrats, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Social Democrat.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We have almost run out of time to support the Bolotnaya Case defendants, before the prison doors will slam shut. This support is important not only to prisoners and their families, but also to all who care about the fate of Russia – about its democratic development.”

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