Khodorkovsky Statement on Navalny Verdict

December 29, 2014

Statement by Mikhail Khodorkovsky in connection with the sentencing of the Navalny brothers (view original Russian text here):

The court has moved the date of the pronouncement of the verdict for Alexey and Oleg Navalny from 15 January to 30 December.

This was done at the last minute, stealthily, on the assumption that people will be out of town on vacation or busy preparing for the holidays.

Our authorities probably think they have outsmarted everybody once again. But all this actually looks quite different. It is clear that the Kremlin is simply afraid of active un-indifferent citizens.

As became clear, it is easy to threaten the world with the nuclear weapons remaining from the USSR, to send “courteous people” to Crimea and “vacationing” hostages to Donbass. But it is much more complicated to look into the eyes of your compatriots who are demanding truth, freedom, and justice.

We have long ago ceased to be amazed by the fact that Putin and his inner circle are capable of underhandedness, deceit, falsification, and manipulation but incapable of anything else. Least of all an honest, open political fight.

Putin ought to be fighting with his political opponents in public debates before competitive elections. But he prefers to do this with the help of the law-enforcement organs. As a result, the people who are supposed to be busy chasing down terrorists who blow up railroad stations and trolleybuses are running after a piece of cardboard on a fence and conducting searches in the homes of the elderly relatives of opposition figures.

I have spent ten years studying these methods. And now it seems that Alexey and Oleg can look forward to this as well. I can imagine how much they need your support right now. And how grateful they are that you are prepared to put a lot at risk by coming out on Manezhnaya Square.

But you are also coming out because our mutual fate is at stake. Because while Putin is locking up political adversaries, his friends are locking up even loyal businessmen. Everybody falls into the zone of risk. And if for Navalny you need Barsrykin, a middle-level police chief is enough for an ordinary entrepreneur, state company manager, or petty official.

Not everyone will suffer physically from these people in power, but the majority will suffer economically. As a person who worked for many years in the real economy, I want to not only support those who will come out on the square, but also to give the Russian authorities some simple practical advice. Acquitting the Navalny brothers will help to stabilize the exchange rate of the ruble — which is particularly important during the time of the New Year holidays — as well as lifting up the spirits of investors. Think about it. The telephone in the Zamoskvoretsky Court building is working. There is not much time, but there still is time.

P.S. I am convinced that the authorities are preparing their next nasty trick and are already busy putting together the propaganda stories about how a fifth column is defending the Navalny brothers’ criminal group on the orders of the State Department. Deprive them of this pleasure. Bring Russian flags, paint the tricolor on your faces. Because tomorrow it will be you who will be fighting for the future of Russia, a wonderful country in which there live people prepared to fight for justice despite the risk.