Monday, 20 September 2010

Introduction by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

When we got a new president in our country, western journalists didn’t ask me their previous standard question - “Do you like Putin?”. No, they began to ask - “What is Medvedev all about?” I answered honestly - “I don’t know”. By the way, nobody in the country knew. The person emerged out of thin air. It is known that he is a jurist.

“We will soon find out”, - I replied. - “If they release Khodorkovsky, it means this is an independent political figure. If not, he’s a fictitious person”.

They did not release Khodorkovsky. Furthermore, they contrived yet another case, this time already totally pulled out of thin air. But Khodorkovsky behaves himself wonderfully in these circumstances - with a sense of dignity, fearlessly and even, if you want, defiantly.

I have my own personal history: in general I do not like the rich. I have a sharpened sense of social justice, at times I am ashamed for the rich. This is my prejudice, I will admit. Others have also weakly motivated biases: some do not like Jews, others Tajiks, still others policemen, yet others dogs of the pit-bull breed.

I was not particularly interested in either Yukos or Khodorkovsky until I uncovered on journeys through our boundless motherland that no matter where I found myself, Khodorkovsky’s programmes are working everywhere: in children’s homes and [prison] colonies, in schools and in universities. And, it must be said, I had several years ago been at Stanford University, thought up and built with the money of one very hard-nosed capitalist, with even a clouded reputation, mister Stanford. I studied this history attentively. I began to admire Stanford. And I understood that such people are wanting in our country. That is they - the Botkins, Soldatenkovs, Shchukins, Khludovs, Tretyakovs - were plentiful at the beginning of the 20th century, but Soviet power had exterminated them. And it was precisely when I had begun to notice the huge sweep of the social philanthropy of Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky that I rejoiced and thought: our cause is not all that hopeless.

And it was soon after this that they shut Khodorkovsky down, took away his company and, so it seems, demolished it, or at any rate sawed it up, and of a huge, wonderfully organised system of philanthropy what remained, it seems, was just the one boarding school for child-orphans Koralovo [sic]. Demolishing it and grabbing the good land under it has for now not yet succeeded.

In a word, the further I go, the more I like Khodorkovsky right on up to entering with him into intermediated (through lawyers) contact. I asked some questions, and received answers that to a great extent satisfied me.

Now I know about the circumstances of this case much more than a year ago. Everything is much worse than it may seem at first glance.

Let us cast aside the unconditional arguments in favour of today’s day: after all, they did not shoot him dead in the basement of the Lubyanka on the third day after the decree of a troyka, they did not poison him with radioactive plutonium or toxic sausage, they organised an expensive trial. They held him in Chita Oblast, from where they brought him to the trial in Moscow not in a teplushka [1], but on an airplane, and kerosene is expensive these days. They pay a salary to the judge, the prosecutors, the security guards, the charwomen, the chauffeur who drives the prisoners Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to the trial four times a week on an armoured monstrosity of large, even huge price.

We, the taxpayers, are paying for this long-playing mockery of common sense. We, the citizens, can do nothing to put a stop to this farce. We, the parents of children who have to live in this country, can do nothing to change something nobody likes. This is dangerous for the future.

I am in favour of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. I’m against absurdity and lawlessness. I’m against talentless mediocrity and lies.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya


[1] A teplushka is a railway carriage similar to a cattle wagon, used for transporting prisoners.

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