Navalny and I Are Allies – Khodorkovsky

February 3, 2015

The following is a translation of an interview by Voice of America with Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The former political prisoner in an interview to “Voice of America” – on the goal of the 1 March street action in Moscow

Danila Galperovich

03.02.2015 18:30

MOSCOW – The Russian opposition intends to conduct an anti-crisis march “Vesna” [Spring] in the country’s capital on 1 March; as envisioned by its initiator, the opposition blogger Alexey Navalny, it ought to bring together up to 100 thousand participants. In addition to Navalny, the signatories of the letter with advance notification about this action that were passed on to Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin on 2 February included former head of YUKOS and political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, leaders of the RPR-Parnas party Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, and journalist Alexander Ryklin.

On the letter are the personal signatures of all the initiators of the march, and in order for Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s signature to have ended up there the document had been taken to Switzerland, where the former “prisoner of Putin No. 1” currently resides.

In an exclusive telephone interview for the “Voice of America” Russian service, Mikhail Khodorkovsky told about the goal of the anti-crisis march and about in what areas he and Alexey Navalny are allies.

Danila Galperovich: Mikhail Borisovich, why did it seem important to you to come out with this initiative together with the other oppositioneers? Did you join up with an already worked-out initiative, or did you discuss it together?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: We discussed, without a doubt, with all the colleagues, that the conducting of mass actions is imperative. As concerns the time for conducting these mass actions, there were many points of view. But when the colleagues in Moscow decided that this needed to be done on 1 March, I didn’t see grounds for not supporting this. It seems to me that those questions that had been raised for this action took into account the point of view that my colleagues and I had expressed. What seemed to us to be the most important thing about the action that’s going to be conducted is that with its help it will be possible to inform, to bring across to people an understanding of the cost of the reckless Ukrainian military adventure. And inasmuch as this question was examined, and it became number two on the list of questions that were issued by the organizing committee, then naturally we took part in the work of this organizing committee.

D.G.: How serious a potential for street protest actions exists in Russia right now in your opinion, taking into account the multidirectional vectors in public Russian consciousness?

M.K.: I don’t consider that protest actions today have a great potential for bringing direct and immediate influence to bear on the authorities. The authorities in our country are demonstrating their lack of interest in taking account of the opinion of the minority. But street actions in today’s information blockade that the authorities have organized in relation to the greater part of the Russian population – this is perhaps one of only a few forms that allow another point of view about current events to be brought across to people. It is precisely out of these considerations that I consider street actions to be important. There is practically nothing for us to talk about with the authorities. But to talk with our fellow citizens is imperative.

D.G.: You’ve said “colleagues” several times, but of course the mass of people who are commenting on this event are talking first and foremost about two signatures – yours and Navalny’s. If we talk about cooperation specifically with Alexey Navalny – how much promise and importance does it hold for you?

M.K.: In the medium term, Alexey Navalny and I and those of our fellow citizens who are coming out in support for him and who work together with him are without a doubt allies. Out of these considerations, this coordinated interaction is important to us.

D.G.: Is it possible to speak of some kind of common platform for you both? What of the things Alexey Navalny says do you share?

M.K.: He and I are allies in the medium term because our position coincides in the main questions as of this particular interval in time. The main thing is that we have to have honest elections, that Vladimir Putin has got to finally bring his many years of rule to an end, preferably in a democratic way. And as a result of honest elections, those people should come to power who are going to represent the interests of all segments of Russian society. Now this is what’s important. As for all the rest, that’s something we can discuss after the honest elections are over already.