Khodorkovsky: “Revolution in Russia is inevitable”

December 9, 2015

On December 9 Mikhail Khodorkovsky gave a press conference to journalists gathered in London and Moscow. Below is a translation of his introductory remarks as prepared for delivery.

You can watch a video of the conference (in Russian only) here.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I’m grateful to the Russian regime and its Investigative Committee subordinates for giving me the opportunity to meet with them. I’m grateful to you for coming.

Yesterday I was informed that on December 11 charges will be filed against me in the Petukhov case, Petukhov having been murdered in 1998. Filing fresh charges against me just before the New Year has become quite a tradition. This is the third time it’s happened. Putin has spoken about it publicly three times. There’s more than enough information out there on the case itself. Even on Wikipedia. So I’ll keep this brief.

The murder was solved that same year – 1998 – and the presumed perpetrators were arrested. For some reason, they were then freed and were subsequently killed.

There are several versions of the story. You can read them yourselves.

Yukos was falsely implicated in the case only in 2003, after I spoke publicly about the embezzlement of 400 million dollars’ worth of public funds, which, as it turned out, was not unbeknownst to Putin.

Presidential spokesman Peskov declared that when I was sent abroad, Putin didn’t know anything about it. He’s lying.

The reasons for this escalation are clear. The decision was taken in early summer in order to put pressure on YUKOS. The Kremlin does not want to pay 50 billion, so they’re using every means available to them to this end.

Materials from the “Spanish Case” were recently published on our website; these materials prove that Bastrykin was appointed chairman of the Investigative Committee on the recommendation of Gennady Petrov, who is regarded as being among Putin’s circle and simultaneously among the leadership of the Tambov crime syndicate.

Finally, the activities of Open Russia are a source of irritation. There have already been police raids and some OR staff has been arrested. Moreover, Putin has publicly expressed his awareness of the matter.

These days, everything is a source of irritation to the regime, because their agenda is good for nothing.

When I came out of prison and was exiled abroad, the situation was favourable for the regime:

– Huge reserves due to super-high oil prices
– A friendly Ukrainian regime
– The war with Georgia had been forgiven by the West
– 30 roubles to the dollar and no protests

Only two years have passed, and what do we see?

  • Reserves will run dry in 2017, and they’ll last even that long only because the exchange rate is 69 roubles to the dollar
  • People’s living standards have dropped by 20% and are continuing to drop
  • People’s patience is running dry, and we’re seeing the flaring of protests catalysed by the pathological greed of Putin’s circle. The protesting truckers are merely harbingers of things to come.
  • There’s a military conflict with Ukraine. Thousands of people have been killed. And it’s not over yet.
  • The conflict with Turkey is somewhere between a trade war and a full-scale military conflict
  • Not only are Western sanctions depleting reserves, they’ve also ensured that technologically underdeveloped industries remain so. Young people and experts are choosing to continue their careers abroad.
  • The banking sector is on the brink of a systemic crisis
  • Horrific systemic corruption has infected the president’s entire circle, as well as the regional heads and the upper echelons of law enforcement.

The root cause of all this is the willful destruction of the country’s legal system in order to maintain power.

Sidestepping the constitution, the president is ruling the country for a de-facto fourth term.

He’s got the opportunity to appoint or fire any judge. To all intents and purposes, judges of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts are also appointed solely by him.

Parliament itself lacks basic budgetary discretion. Parliament’s supervisory body – the Audit Chamber – has been moved under the control of the president.

No attempt is made to conceal the ornamental role of the government.

The president and his circle can thus exploit public funds unaccountably. They can spend public money to buy loyalty, to fund mega-projects and military adventures, and finally to line their own pockets.

The Chaika case, the case of the “Russian mafia in Spain,” Governor Turchak as the mastermind behind the beating of the journalist Oleg Kashin, the murder of Boris Nemtsov, where the trail leads to Kadyrov’s closest associate … This isn’t simply a degradation of the state.

And in recent days:

– Russia has ceased to recognise the priority of international law, contravening the constitution
– Ildar Dadin has been sentenced to three years in prison for exercising his constitutional right to stage a peaceful picket.

We’re dealing with nothing other than a real anti-constitutional upheaval.

What is the way out of this? Given the absence of fair elections and other mechanisms of a legal changeover of power, the only means of bringing it about is revolution.

Revolution in Russia is inevitable. The remaining reserves and the threat of repression will only buy the regime time.

The only question is how to make the revolution relatively peaceful and effective in the sense of restoring a system of democratic rule.

My task as I see it involves presenting an alternative to society; it involves helping people who are prepared to become this alternative to gain experience in political struggle.

It’s for this purpose that we’ve launched our Open Elections project.

It’s for this purpose that we’ve created – and will continue to help create – platforms for free discussion of the country’s future.

We have told – and shall continue to tell – the truth in writing and in film.

We are fighting – and shall continue to fight – for the rights of political prisoners, and against repressive, anti-constitutional laws.

I envisage Russia as a rule-of-law state with an independent judiciary and an independent parliament with broad budgetary and executive discretion.

Russia must have a powerful and independent government. It must have a president who, as the guarantor of citizens’ rights and the head of state, must leave his post forever and unequivocally after no more than two five-year terms.

The country needs new areas of development and megalopolises other than Moscow; it needs modern infrastructure, cheap and fast transport links, and modern industry. This is all impossible unless Russia emerges from the isolation it has been pushed into by the current regime for the sake of maintaining its own power.

Moreover, the resources to achieve all this do exist. They just need to be utilised in a rational manner rather than exchanged for the loyalty of crooks both in epaulettes and without them.

Russian society must recognise that the country is witnessing an anti-constitutional upheaval.

The country is at the mercy of unlawful and repressive legislation passed by an illegitimate parliament and execute by a judiciary under the thumb of the regime. This legislation is unlawful. It’s necessary to undermine all this to whatever extent this is possible.

The return to a legal framework from a situation of this kind is called revolution, and it is inevitable.

Revolution is a good word. It can and must be peaceful. To make it peaceful is the challenge we all face.”