Khodorkovsky: Give people a couple of wars, and they will be happy

July 3, 2014

The following translated coverage of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s speech at the University of Zurich was originally published on

Khodorkovsky: Give people a couple of wars, and they will be happy

On June 27, former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky spoke at the University of Zurich, where he presented a gloomy picture of the legal situation in Russia and Russian courts.

The main topic of Khodorkovsky’s speech was economic freedom and the role of courts in Russia.

He suggested that the principle formulated by the Spanish dictator Franco works in Russia: “For my friends – everything, for my enemies – the law.”

Khodorkovsky said that the Russian legal system is constantly adapting to the demands of the authorities, and new laws are adopted without prior consultation with experts and stakeholders.

“The judges, in fact, are government officials, who carry out the will of the people from Putin’s circle” – Khodorkovsky said.

“Give bread and circuses to people, or a couple of wars on the outskirts of the country – and they will be happy” – the former head of Yukos said about the support that the Russian government enjoys from in the country’s population.

Interestingly, earlier Khodorkovsky commented that he dreams that Ukraine and Russia could one day be united, but within Europe.

According to the Russian opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the greatest political mistake of the new Ukrainian authorities was that they failed to go to the eastern regions to explain why European integration matters.

“We, Ukrainians and Russians, have a similar mentality – if we do not know something, we think about the worst possible option. Therefore, it is necessary to talk to people,” Mikhail Khodorkovsky said.

Khodorkovsky believes that there is no alternative to the European development in a democratic Ukraine, and there is none in Russia.

“My dream is to unite Ukraine and Russia in the framework of the European family,” – the former head of Yukos said.

Earlier it was reported that the former head of Yukos warned EU against sanctions against Russia.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky believes that it makes no sense for the EU to impose additional sanctions against Russia.

According to him, EU sanctions against Russia will only benefit nationalists, who want to isolate Russia from the West.

He noted that Europe needs to focus not on sanctions against Moscow, but on assistance to democratic development in Ukraine.

In late April 2014, Khodorkovsky made ​​a number of statements related to the political crisis in Ukraine’s regions and the response of the world community.