This Friday October 25, 2013, Mikhail Khodorkovsky will mark the tenth anniversary of his arrest at gunpoint in 2003. Khodorkovsky has spent the last decade in Russia’s penal colonies, prisons and detention centres, facing two politically motivated trials and suffering grave abuses of his fundamental human rights. He is currently imprisoned in a penal colony in Segezha, near the Finnish border.
Following a series of farcical appeals, Khodorkovsky is scheduled to be released in August 2014. His family has called upon the Russian authorities to respect the date set by Russia’s own courts, and for the international community to make clear that it expects to see Khodorkovsky released.
Khodorkovsky’s son, Pavel, stated:
“The time is right to release my father and my family is hoping for that moment. Over the last ten years, despite repeated miscarriages of justice and violations of his rights, my father has stayed true to his vision of a democratic, open Russia. He has kept positive, never despaired and is an inspiration to my family and beyond.”
In a recent statement after receiving the prestigious Lech Walesa Award, bestowed annually by the foundation of the former Polish President and Nobel Laureate, Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself referred to the “hundreds of people — if not thousands already — who are sitting in Russian jails because of their civic position.” He added:
“Each of us was standing up for something different: some for the right to freely manage and dispose of their property, some for freedom of creativity and self-expression, some for the right to be elected. Some simply refused to slander themselves. We are all people with different views, but one thing unites us today — the sense of our own dignity.”
In an article published in the International New York Times on October 25, Khodorkovsky reflects on the ten years “spent in the jails, prisons and camps of the new Russia.”
New Levada Poll: Two-thirds of Muscovites want Khodorkovsky released
Russia’s only independent polling organisation, the Levada Centre has published results of research into attitudes towards Khodorkovsky in Moscow. Almost two-thirds of Muscovites would welcome Khodorkovsky’s release. Only 10 per cent said they were against his release. 44 per cent have a positive attitude towards him, while only 7 per cent have a negative one. 73 per cent of Muscovites polled said that courts in Russia are used for political purposes.
Khodorkovsky.com Launches Mobile App
To mark the tenth anniversary of Khodorkovsky’s arrest, Khodorkovsky.com is launching a mobile application on both iPhone and Android. The app will provide users with basic tools to petition politicians to call for the release of Russian political prisoners as the 2014 Winter Olympics approach. The app is currently available at www.khodorkovsky.com/app and will be available from iTunes and Google Play in the near future.
Support around the world
Earlier this month, Pavel Khodorkovsky met with David Lidington, the UK Foreign Minister who said:
“It has been ten years since Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested. His experience revealed serious flaws in the Russian judicial process, and his case has rightly attracted international attention.
We have significant concerns about the processes used to convict Mikhail Khodorkovsky and continue to call for him to be released according to schedule in August 2014. This would represent a positive step towards demonstrating the fair application of law in Russia.”
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton recently stated that the Khodorkovsky case “remains one of the emblematic cases that are of serious concern to the EU.”
In addition, public figures from around the world have recorded statements of support calling for Khodorkovsky’s release, which can be viewed here: www.khodorkovsky.com/photo-video/video-gallery/nggallery/video-gallery/decade-of-injustice/
David Kramer, President of the NGO Freedom House stated:
“I think Khodorkovsky has handled his situation with tremendous grace and dignity. He is a man who was at the top of his game a decade ago – Russia’s richest man – someone who decided it was time to support civil society, even venture into some opposition activities, and he clearly crossed wires with President Putin and paid a dear price for that.”
Adam Michnik, the Polish writer and former dissident stated:
“Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the only example in the world of somebody, who from Nelson Rockefeller was able to transform into Nelson Mandela. No such thing has ever taken place and in this respect Khodorkovsky already holds a place in the pantheon of greatest Russians, not only of our century.”
Lord Trimble, a Nobel Peace Laureate stated:
“The Khodorkovsky case tells you a lot about the character of the Putin regime and the sort of Russia that Putin is creating. Khodorkovsky represents people who want to create a different sort of Russia, which is why the trumped up charges were brought, which is why he is still in prison.”
Mikhail Kasyanov, who was the Prime Minister of Russia when Khodorkovsky was arrested, stated:
“We note that you are a fighter: during ten years in prison you do not lose faith and fight against lawlessness. It evokes a feeling of respect.”
The legendary Russian human rights activist, Lyudmila Alexeyeva stated:
“In our country as it is now, a political prisoner is an honorable position. And you are the most important political prisoner in our country.”
Worldwide Events Calling for Khodorkovsky’s Release
The anniversary is being marked by a series of worldwide events. In Washington DC, the Institute for Modern Russia (IMR), Freedom House, and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice held a photo exhibition on Capitol Hill, highlighting the cases of Sergei Magnitsky, Alexei Navalny, the Bolotnaya protesters, Pussy Riot, and Anna Politkovskaya, as well as Khodorkovsky.
In London, the Henry Jackson Society held an event in the UK parliament addressing the ongoing significance of the Khodorkovsky case while the Frontline Club hosted a performance of Khodorkovsky’s prison writings.
Solidarity readings of Khodorkovsky’s writing are being held around the world, organised by the Berlin International Literature Festival, including in Moscow at the Sakharov Centre, in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere. More information on the worldwide reading can be found at www.worldwide-reading.com. Nobel literature laureates including Herta Müller, Elfriede Jelinek, Mario Vargas Llosa and John M. Coetzee are taking part in the readings.
In Paris on 25 October 2013, Amnesty International France, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Reporters without Borders (RSF), the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, ACAT and Russie-Libertés will be holding a solidarity event in Paris. Running from 6pm to 2am, the event will include a forum with testimonies from Russia regarding the working camps, then a photo exhibition presenting images of “Russian Visionaries” and a reading of a text from Khodorkovsky’s new book in the context of the worldwide readings event.
A full summary of events marking the tenth anniversary of Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment can be seen here: www.khodorkovsky.com/10th-anniversary-events-2/
More information can be found at www.khodorkovsky.com
More information on Khodorkovsky’s Decade of Injustice can be found at www.decadeofinjustice.com
For additional material in Russian please visit www.khodorkovsky.ru