Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Open letter by Andrei Makarevich

Vladimir Vladimirovich!

As a musician, I travel around the country constantly and I meet different people. What I want to tell you, you probably already know, but I suspect that you can not imagine the scale of the disaster.

You will of course know the word "откат" (otkat) (*). 5-6 years ago, the average otkat in the country was 30 %. We weeped, but we paid. Today it is 70 %. I even know a case in which the otkat was 95 %. The whole country knows about this situation. They know it, but they don't say anything, since a part of the population is living on bribes and can eat by it, and another (much larger) part is afraid of losing everything, even the remaining thirty percent. I know what you will say - let them go to court. But they can not go to court, mister Putin. Because our courts today have become machines to punish undesirable elements or devices to get money from plaintiffs.

Thus, the remaining 30 % of the budget can be used to strengthen the defense, to build roads, to develop industry, medicine and education and to organise the world's best Olympic Games. If the situation will change drastically in the near future, we are heading for a total disaster.

I am writing this letter to you because in our life today, no major changes are possible without your decision, your word or your intervention.p>

I do not think you can stand so indifferent to the country that chose you as president.

Andrei Makarevich

(*) Otkat ("rollback") is the term used when Russian officials expect bribes in exchange when citizens or companies want government contracts. The government officials pay the contractor performing the work or supplying the services, and expect that a portion of that money "rolls back" to them.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A revision of the Khodorkovsky case?

One day after the election, the outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Attorney General to "analyze the grounds" of the judgment in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin said in a statement. Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Attorney General Yuri Chaika "to analyze the legitimacy and validity of judgments by April, 1" related to 32 convicted persons, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev. The outgoing president is responding to the request of the opposition who has transmitted a list of people considered as political prisoners, at a meeting on February 20.

The release of political prisoners was one of the requirements of the large opposition demonstrations in Moscow which followed the contested legislative from December 4. Imprisoned since 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced in two successive trials to 13 years in prison for "tax evasion, money laundering and diversion of oil" in a case seen by many observers as a settling of accounts between the power and the businessman who had stood up against the Kremlin and had financed the opposition.


One of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's lawyers, Karinna Moskalenko, takes the news with some reservations. "We'll see how serious the authorities' intentions are," she said, quoted by the news agency Interfax. "Khodorkovsky was sentenced illegally and they had to release him a long time ago," she said. Dmitry Medvedev had said in the past that he could not discuss Khodorkovsky's pardon since there was no written request by the condemned. In December, Putin also said that he would consider the request for a pardon if Mikhail Khodorkovsky admitted guilt, which the prisoner refuses.

Dmitry Medvedev also instructed the Minister of Justice, Aleksandr Konovanov, to explain by March 15 "why the opposition party Parnas was denied registration." The decisions Medvedev were announced after the presidential election of his predecessor and mentor Vladimir Putin, who is expected to take office in May.