Monday, 20 September 2010


Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a citizen of the Russian Federation, former executive and co-owner of Yukos, the largest oil company in Russia. He’s also the founder of the interregional civic organisation Открытая Россия - Otkrytaya Rossiya [Open Russia], with which he often criticized the regime of Vladimir Putin. Mikhail Khodorkovsky provided financial support to various Russian Liberal Democratic Parties.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year term of imprisonment. In 2003 he was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement. Yukos was virtually dismantled, the most profitable parts were offered to Rosneft, an oil company under control of Igor Sechin. Sechin is one of the most conservative counselors of Vladimir Putin. He is deputy Prime minister in Putin’s cabinet and leader of the Комманда Силовиков - Kommanda Silovikov [People of Force], a lobby of former KGB agents, and thus friends of Putin, in the Kremlin.

Now, nearing the end of the punishment, a new court case is opened against Khodorkovsky. The accusations are again coming from businessman Igor Sechin.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya is a writer and laureate of international prizes as the Booker prize (2001) and the Большая книга - Bolshaya kniga [Big book] prize (2007). She’s curator of the project Другой, другие, о других - Drugoy, drugiye, o drugikh [Other one, other ones, about others] - a series of books for adolescents, covering typical questions of anthropology and acute social problems. She’s the founder of the Хорошие книги - Khoroshiye knigi [Good books] foundation, the task of which is to supply the libraries of small towns, schools and children’s homes with quality literature.

In 2008, Lyudmila Ulitskaya and Mikhail Khodorkovsk started an interesting correspondence which was published in Novaya Gazeta and was awarded the literature prize of Znamya Magazine on 13 January 2009.

Vladimir Putin said he was unaware of new charges brought against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and did not back the businessman into a corner. "He is serving a well-deserved punishment," Putin said. "When he is released he will be a free man," he added. "I certainly did not back him into a corner."

Meanwhile a Moscow court extended custody for Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev for another three months.

Jan Vanhellemont

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