17 August 2009

There Is Honor Amongst Thieves

Dear readers,

I read this morning that Mikhail Khodorovski has refused to request the pardon of Dimitri Medvedev, as hinted by the current Russian President. Khodorovski is doing an 8 year jail term in Russia for alleged tax evasion and he is being currently tried for a second set of fraud and embezzlement accusations. This second set is just as likely to end up in a conviction and a maximum 20 year cumulative sentence, considering the level of independence of the Russian justice system.

So why would a (relatively) young man like Khodorovski refuse to ask for a pardon which could prevent him for spending most of his life in a Russian dungeon? The risks of doing so are minimal, considering he will be convicted anyway. And Medvedev would have never hinted at it if he was not intending to give such a pardon, at least after a while. Well, Khodorovski himself gave the answer: to ask for a pardon in Russia, like in most other countries, you need to recognize that you were guilty in the first place. There is no way Mikhail Khodorovski will do this any time soon. While the ex-tycoon is certainly no saint and probably did commit some of the infractions he is accused of (and maybe some others), there is also no illusion for anyone that these convictions are purely motivated by the wish of the Putin Clan to rule Russia unopposed.

This has been Khodorovski leitmotiv for the last four or five years and he is unlikely to change his speech. Because that's pretty much all he has left. He lost his freedom when he was arrested then, all his fortune disappeared in the trial or was confiscated by the Russian authorities or distributed as spoils to Russian companies nearer to the Kremlin. All he has left, apart from his life, is his "honor". Likely a thief honor, after all, but honor nonetheless. And in a society such as Russia, this still counts. It is his name, after all. The other thieves are giving him the opportunity to exchange his honor against his life (because he won't ever be free, even out of jail, they will see to that). And he refused.

So here I am, saluting a true man who refuses to bend. Good luck Mikhail. You will need a lot of it.

1 comment:

Dr Jawwad Khan said...

Tax evasion!!!
Seems good but you can't held him in prison indefinitely...
Do as Americans do....

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