Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Putin’s Candidacy Is A Violation Of The Constitution

December 19, 2017

Dear Ella Alexandrovna,

This December, you and the Central Electoral Committee will face a moment of truth.  You will be forced to take a monumental decision, upon which the course of Russian history will depend.  I’m talking, of course, about the registration of Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidency of the Russian Federation for a fifth time.  I have practically no doubts about the decision you will make, but I am appealing to you in order to make you aware of the extent of your own personal, historical, political and legal responsibility.

Vladimir Putin has de facto been in power for 17 years, and is now about to add another 4 years on top of that.  For his third term in office (between 2008 and 2012) he was formally replaced by Dmitry Medvedev who, throughout the course of those 4 years, did not spend a single day in control of the country.  It was a sleight of hand, intended to deceive the Russian people and the international community.  Both parties agreed in advance the temporary transition of the presidential office on the basis of Putin retaining executive authority, white sharing between themselves the higher offices of state.  They never attempted to hide this fact and were not shy to speak about it publicly.

This act of trading places was both politically immoral and unlawful.  This was a flagrant abuse of constitutional privileges in order to bypass the law.  The sole aim of this escapade was to cause a formal interruption in the 17-year reign of Vladimir Putin, while creating the impression that there was a gap between the four terms in office.  This a truth about which — as goes the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes — everybody is aware.  I even feel a little awkward playing the role of the young boy, writing to you about something that is no secret to anybody, whether in Russia or the rest of the world at large.

I call on you and other members of the Russian Central Electoral Committee to abide by your civil and professional duty and make the only legally responsible decision: to refuse to register Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin as a candidate for president of the Russian Federation, as to do so would be a violation of the Constitution.

I am convinced that thousands of other Russian citizens will stand along side me in this appeal, and so the option of simply ignoring it is hardly a viable option.  Ella Alexandrovna, I am also asking you to take into account that although the registration of Vladimir Putin will first and foremost be in his interests, it will also officially bear your signature.  To comply is to accept that you will have to answer in front of the jury of history, and perhaps, eventually, another kind of jury.


Citizen of the Russian Federation

Mikhail Khodorkovsky                                                                                                08.12.17

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