“Putin’s Prisoner,” by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Natalia Gevorkyan

putins-prisonerWhy a book by and about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the most prominent prisoner in Russia? He is the most intelligent of his generation, the only oligarch who neither went abroad nor submitted to Putin, the only one who has a vision of a different economy and a different society, concepts with which Russia would clearly have been better off in recent years than under the current government. He is the greatest threat to Putin and embodies the civil society counter-model to the latter’s myopic power politics, a bearer of hope for the post-Putin/Medvedev era – provided he survives his personal “Robben Island”.

While Khodorkovsky has already published several journal articles and corresponded amongst others with Ludmila Ulitzkaya, in this book he reveals for the first time very personal information. It has often been said of him that he is more computer than human, but for all the self-possession that distinguishes Khodorkovsky, here he reveals his fears, concerns, and hopes. He describes what led up to his arrest, who was responsible for it and what their aim was, what his years of imprisonment were like for him and how he faces the allegations against him. And he describes his meetings with judges and prosecutors, with guards and fellow prisoners, who include psychopaths and idiots, intelligent and interesting people, and with whom the exchange is worthwhile so as to survive and not to sink into solitude. This book shows clearly where he gets his strength from – books, which he reads everywhere and in every situation, play an important role – without which he would not have survived the seven years of his captivity.

Natalia Gevorkyan is the ideal partner for Khodorkovsky on this book project. Born in Moscow in 1956, she studied journalism at Moscow State University and worked for ten years in several East European countries. In 1989 she returned to the Russian capital out of enthusiasm for Gorbachev’s perestroika and worked for the Moscow News newspaper. In 1991 she received the American “Freedom of Press” prize, and in 1992 she published “The KGB is alive”. Since 1996 she has written for the respected Russian newspaper Kommersant, first as a special correspondent for politics and large-scale business, currently as the newspaper’s Paris correspondent. In 1998 she received the “Golden Pen” journalism prize, the Russian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, for her interview with General Pinochet. She has interviewed most of the oligarchs, and in 2000 published the first book of interviews with Vladimir Putin.

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