Rifkind: Putin Turned Khodorkovsky into a Political Martyr

August 30, 2013

In an exclusive taped interview with Khodorkovsky.com as part of the Decade of Injustice interview series, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP said that President Vladimir Putin has inadvertently turned Mikhail Khodorkovsky into a “political martyr.”

In the ten years that have passed since the arrest and imprisonment of Khodorkovsky, Russia has experienced a significant decline in rule of law, the British lawmaker says, showing that the political prisoner’s fate has not been isolated to just one case.

“Putin seems willing to reside over a Russia which has become more restrictive, less willing to respect normal principles of justice, and using political power as a way, through the legal system, to actually prevent opponents or critics from being able to exercise what would be their normal rights in a free society,” Rifkind said.

Referring to Putin’s persecution of Khodorkovsky, Rifkind commented: “I think he has misjudged the effect of what he is doing disastrously, because what started as an attempt to muzzle critics, has now made Khodorkovsky into a political martyr. (…) It was never part of Putin’s strategy for that happen.”

Rifkind also urged for the immediate release of Khodorkovsky, who will mark his tenth anniversary in jail on October 25, 2013.

“On any basis, Khodorkovsky should be released. His alleged crimes do not justify his continuing incarceration. There can only be a political reason when someone who has completed their first sentence suddenly finds themselves facing new charges which conveniently lead to further sentences of imprisonment. Nobody will accept, either inside Russia or outside Russia, that that is justice. It is political manipulation of the Russian legal system.”

Watch the full interview here.