Newsletters / Khodorkovsky at Stanford University “Russia: Back to the future”

On the afternoon of April 13th Mikhail Khodorkovsky spoke at Stanford University during a seminar entitled “Russia: Back to the future”. The seminar was organized by Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

– Who does Crimea belong to?

– In preparing for this meeting I specially put on my Twitter feed the link to the text of the speech that Putin made in 2008 where he said there’s no doubt Crimea is Ukrainian. Who am I to argue with our president?

– [Question by Michael McFaul] Why do you think Putin released you? I’ve heard the official explanation. I’m curious what you think.

– For whatever reason he did it I’m sure that there are many in his inner circle who regret that decision today.


Putin has realized that the state capitalism he has created is no longer capable of ensuring growth.  States of such a type were always created only for war.  And this war had to be started in order to justify the existence of the current system.


The Russia we dream of seeing is completely different.  It is a country of clean streets, successful, smiling,
self-confident people, who have a job they love and who don’t have to struggle for existence day in and day out.


When I was coming out of prison, I wanted to see another country.  One expects the future to bring not only technological progress, but social progress as well. Unfortunately, the feeling I got was completely different.


Good schools, hospitals, and roads will appear only when every person who has power and money conferred on them will know that if he doesn’t do his job well, someone else will take his place.

Read full text and watch video of the speech here