Capital: Clicks against Putin – A Joint Interview with Mikhail and Pavel Khodorkovsky

February 21, 2013

An interview with Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his eldest son Pavel has today been published in the March edition of leading German monthly business magazine “Capital”.

Journalist Nils Kreimeier was able to speak with Pavel Khodorkovsky face-to-face, but given his ongoing imprisonment, Mikhail’s portion of the interview was compiled using written correspondence.

Both father and son responded to questions about the effect of  social media on the opposition movement in Russia and the way in which smartphones, Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized communication and undermined the power of authoritarian states:

For Russia, with its huge dimensions, the internet became a catalyst for all social processes. My country moves in the direction towards Europe and that development is now accelerated”, Mikhail Khodorkovsky wrote, pointing out that in the 1990s his company Yukos helped to train tens of thousands of Russian teachers in the use of internet technology.

Amongst other topics, they also discussed the differences between the ‘old school opposition’  generation and the younger ‘Facebook opposition’ generation.  As a representative of the ‘old school opposition’, Mikhail Khodorkovsky explained:

We have a precise idea of what authoritarian power is constructed of, how many victims it can demand and what it means in general to live in a totalitarian system. This is exactly what makes us persistent in our resistance.”

On the topic of the new generation, he wrote: “It is more cheerful and more willing to take risks. They do not believe that evil will prevail. That gives them that indispensable courage which we perhaps might have already lost. However, the Facebook opposition just started to understand that many ‘like’ clicks are not a political success in itself. Especially, when on the other side there is a judiciary which is directed from above. (…) The old opposition (…) has the feeling to remain behind the rapidly establishing, creative net society. We have to learn from each other.”

Pavel Khodorkovsky expanded on how the new generation uses new techniques as a basis for public relations:

Here, a symbiosis between the quality of the old opposition and the modern approach of the young people develops”.

Asked about his potential future role in society, Mikhail Khodorkovsky replied that he would like to see himself as a pioneer helping others to widen their horizons with respect to the arts, science, politics or entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, Pavel explained that his father already has a unifying role for the opposition and that despite his imprisonment he has helped to develop a vision for the future of Russia, for the Government’s role and for the opposition’s role.

A summary of the article can be found (in German) on the Capital website HERE