Mikhail Khodorkovsky: “There are only two kinds of dialogue with the government – in an election or on the barricades”

September 19, 2016

Former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event at Canary Wharf in London

Statement on the results of the State Duma elections 2016

The results of the so-called elections to the so-called parliament were much as we expected. Once more, it was a case of an election with no right to choose.

The people voted with their feet and the turnout was the lowest it has been for some years. Support for the Kremlin fell away: there were 70 million fewer votes than had been publicly expected.

“The ruling party” may have a constitutional majority, but it has failed to achieve legitimacy. You can’t prevent crooks cheating, as we all saw during the election campaign and on voting day.

Open Russia had already completed its political and educational project Open Elections before people went to the polls on September 18th. 19 of our 24 candidates lasted the course and reached voting day. Most importantly, they all did great work in their constituencies. I followed closely their progress and results at the elections.

Our candidates managed to attract more than 100,000 votes and to compel the electoral commissions to reflect these in their final reports. I believe that this is a worthy result for new political names and a good indication of future possibilities.

The average percentage was over 3%: this is more than results garnered by candidates on the lists of parties which did not make it into the Duma. This shows that there is a demand for new approaches and new faces.

My chief conclusion is that there are only two kinds of dialogue with the government – in elections or on the barricades. These are the two choices facing true patriots and citizens of Russia.

Abstaining or surrendering the right to vote, even when the excuse is plausible, turns citizens into spongers hanging around in expectation of a few crumbs from the master’s table. In the next few years this will be the only possible role for our society. To ensure that this period does not drag on for too long, the democratic advance-guard must work together to rethink its general strategy and convince our fellow citizens to support it.

I will do everything in my power to see that this happens soon.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky