“Putin is not Russia, and there is a future after Putin,” says Khodorkovsky

January 30, 2015

Our country is spiralling headlong into self-isolation, and yesterday’s diplomatic move in PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe] is but one of the symbols of this path that Russia does not need.

The causes of the latest escalation? Mariupol and Nadezhda Savchenko. It is not necessary to keep on proving that the victims in Mariupol are the result of a bombardment with heavy armaments brought in from Russia. I direct those who are interested to the evidence available on many websites.

The question to ask is “Why?” The answer: because this is a deliberate provocation by the authorities, to create a springtime ‘situation’. The aim? To get Putin’s ‘okay’ for seizing Mariupol and Kherson. And the goal? The usual ones — cash and to score points.

The second stumbling block is the hunger-striking Nadezhda Savchenko.

The Russian Investigative Committee is saying that it is going to prove in the Moscow City Court that Savchenko was orchestrating the fire of the artillery batteries, which caused the death of our journalists.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the Investigative Committee is incapable of telling the truth (even if you ask them what day of the week it is …), while it’s not for nothing that the Moscow City Court has been dubbed the Moscow City Rubber Stamp.

They will obediently follow procedure, that is ‘seek the advice’ of the Presidential Administration, and be ready to rubber-stamp the decision as surely as Monday follows Sunday.

Their position is one of plain double-dealing:  “We’re not a party to the conflict, but nevertheless we’re going to judge the participants in the conflict, only not all of them, just the ones we feel like”.

There is only one line that we can take in such a situation: any member of the Russian government, parliamentary deputy, or government official, including the president of Russia, ought to be arrested as an organiser of, or accessory to war crimes — for the delivery of arms, ammunition, and the sending of paid ‘volunteers’; as an organiser of or accessory to the looting of the property of others in Crimea, for seizing the property of others at the point of a gun, and without compensation.

If we are not to find ourselves in a legal dead end, and one that will have an extremely bloody outcome, then Nadezhda Savchenko should be released immediately. And the organisers of such legal nihilism should be punished for causing such unnecessary harm to Russia.

Self-isolation

Supporters of self-isolation assert that it is somehow to Russia’s benefit, that we will replace ‘bad’ Western food products with our own ‘good’ ones, that Sochi and Crimea are better holiday destinations than Turkey and Egypt, that investments in defence make better economic sense than technological innovation, that our scientists can study and work just as well without any international cooperation, and that China will solve all our financial problems. Hard facts, however, say something rather different: that investments in defence are nothing more than yet another feeding trough, that Russian scientists are fleeing the country, that the service in Sochi and Crimea can’t be compared with that in Turkey and Egypt, that goods are getting more expensive — our own no less so than imported ones — and that America is vastly more important for China than Russia is.

War has its price for everybody, but for those in whose interests it has been unleashed, the price should be greater.

The myths

The reasons for war have nothing at all to do with the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, nor some mythical, threatening NATO bases. And if they really wanted to raise the pensions of our people in Crimea, they could have simply paid them a supplement, while any questions about the status of the Russian language could have been resolved in the course of meaningful political negotiations. As for the NATO bases in Ukraine, these are a total propaganda myth. Given Russia’s nuclear arsenal, their potential for aggression is exactly zero. Everybody understands this, except for those who have not the wit to understand it.

So, what then is the reason for the war? Why, money again, of course! When Putin’s popularity ratings started to drop because of the continuing corruption scandals, when Maidan showed that a thieving government can be kicked out of office, instead of a war on corruption they started an operation to divert society’s attention — accompanied by even more siphoning off of funds. It’s just that they miscalculated when it came to the consequences. Already, nearly three hundred Russian citizens, and from three to five thousand Ukrainians have been identified as killed, and this is just the beginning. How many more will there be? How many people have been maimed and mutilated, how many have lost everything they owned? Show us even one country where the Russian-speaking population we are ‘protecting’ has borne such losses. And yet all this senseless death and destruction is carried out simply for the sake of illicit gain by a small group of people clinging to the Russian president, and the bureaucracy that serves it.

Punishment

These people must be punished if they will not pull back in good time. Inside the country — through lustration and the seizure of unlawful gains; beyond the borders of the country — through targeted sanctions. Sanctions must hit all those in whose interests or through whose connivance this fratricidal war was started and continues. Everyone who considers it acceptable to receive incomes from this corrupt power, that exceed the normal incomes of government officials. If an official or a head of a state company considers it acceptable to receive 30 or 50 million a year, then he can and should understand that this kind of money is payment for selling your soul. Speaking in the language of the law, this is called aiding and abetting, failure to report a crime, and membership of a criminal organisation.

Who, then, are these people? All of them, with rare exceptions, possess official passports; all of them, with rare exceptions, are government officials, civil servants, their friends and partners, employees of the law enforcement system, who possess wealth measured in multiple millions.

We are talking about, perhaps, 100–150 thousand beneficiaries, profiting from the reckless Ukrainian adventure, we are talking about those who have shown themselves ready to support international highway robbery for the sake of preserving the opportunity to line their pockets from the Russian budget, for the sake of preserving their privileges.

For these reasons, I oppose non-targeted sanctions, and this is why I also oppose the use of the phrase “sanctions against Russia”.

Right-thinking people understand that the target should not be Russia, but the thieves and highway robbers who have turned Russia — our people — into hostages. Yes, hostages forced to suffer, but to conflate the hostages with the bandits who have taken them prisoner, even just on a rhetorical level — that is not fair. Even if the hostages are suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

For this will pass

For this will pass. It is important to understand one thing: not only is Putin no friend of the West, he is no friend of ours — Russians and modern-day Russian society — and he is never going to be our friend.

Those people who, on March 1st, will once again come out on the streets of Russia’s cities, holding aloft anti-war slogans, will demonstrate that we want a different place in the world for our country and our children.

For Putin is not Russia, and there is a future after Putin. Our task is to prepare for that future today.

– Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky

Read original Russian text here.

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