The power lacks goodness and patience

December 24, 2010

By Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

About the author: Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky – prisoner, former head of NK YUKOS.

From the editors: two texts were submitted for the “Carte-blanche” column at the editorial planning meeting yesterday, expressing opposite points of view on one and the same topic. We made the decision to publish them concurrently.

I will admit it, I had a hard time holding back my irritation during the pre-New Year tele-marathon by our “national leader”. When you know what is really going on in the country, even if it is only from the mass information media, then the feeling that they regard you as a stupid little child who is not yet able to understand anything has got to be unpleasant.

However, after the first emotions there came another feeling – a sense of pity for this already not-young person, so upbeat and so alone before a boundless and remorseless country.

It is evident – he is incapable of tearing himself away from the already unliftable “oar” of the monstrous “galley” he himself has built. A galley that apathetically sails right over people’s destinies. A galley over which, more and more, the citizens of Russia seem to see a black pirate flag flying.

Nobody picked an argument with him “on the air” – wrong “format”. But neither was he trying to convince us of anything – no, he was convincing himself. That he is right in everything, that he is “at the helm”, that everything is still “in its place”.

But Putin is obviously not a stupid person, and so he understood everything perfectly well.

He “snarled” as usual at the opposition, which, “coming to power, will rob the country blind”, while no doubt the thought flickered in his now-gray head: “It is under me, after all, and not under ‘them’, that corruption has increased by a factor of 10; under me, and not under ‘them’, that bureaucrats with power have become the richest class in Russia”.

And, most likely, he recalled the sinister but true thought expressed by his CFO Kudrin, that it is impossible for the country to get any benefit out of windfall oil-and-gas incomes being put into the economy, inasmuch as the “vertical” will steal everything, will turn everything to ashes, will squirrel it all away in countless and bottomless pockets… His – “Putinite” – “vertical”, his galley, his “gift” to Russia.

Having wearied of bitter reproaches, he might also say that “if the system does not work, then one can not, after all, sit ‘with one’s arms crossed’ doing nothing, so let there be at least ‘manual control'”…

He will recall Gus-Khrustalny and his order to “sort it out”. And then, perhaps, he will contritely realize that those women had complained to him in October 2009, and he had decided right then and there – everything is in order, the injustice has been eliminated, the “vertical” has worked… But now, this means, police/gang lawlessness had in actuality continued in the town for another whole year, culminating with the grandiose scandal of November 2010. Already after Kushchevskaya, after governor Tkachev’s macabre words – about how there is a vast endless sea of such “kushchevskayas” throughout all of Russia…

And later – to the inevitable question about Manège Square in Moscow, Senate Square in St. Pete, Rostov-on-Don, about Izhevsk, about Solnechnogorsk, Lubertsy – he will turn on his customary “steely gaze”, and will make a traditionally coarse and caustic comment about the “bearded liberals”. Just whom does he envision? Limonov, Churov? Perhaps the late Solzhenitsyn?

But you can not fool yourself. Thousands upon thousands of adolescents going totally out of control all of a sudden is too glaring a signal: our children do not see any life prospects for themselves. A dreadful yet obvious result of his – Putin’s – “stability”. Russian children and the children of the peoples of the Caucasus. Such a similar, pitiful rage, such a common sense of unneedeness and unprotectedness outside the pack… They are our future, they are our woe, they are the most tragic result of a decade of “getting up from our knees”, when there is money, but there is no compassion…

He understands everything, but he “maintains the brand image” – he is “not ashamed”. That is just what he said – he is “not ashamed”. Let it be so. Let it be us who are ashamed then. After all, we are the ones who allowed ourselves, him, them to become this cruel.

Love of dogs – the only sincere, good feeling that pierces through the icy armor shell of the “national symbol” of the beginning of the 2000s.

A love of dogs which, just like the love of football among these children, has become a substitute for a love of people…

A person inside such an armor shell can not be happy.

“Everybody is afraid of you” – a frightening complement ringing out from the television screen. Do we really need for Russia to be built on cruelty once again? Do we really want our children to prove to us what it is we really need to be afraid of?

Bright, festive days will arrive soon. We will be wishing each other goodness and happiness.

This is a wise tradition.

And so I too want to wish Putin goodness and patience. May he not be feared, but loved.

Perhaps not by everybody, but nevertheless sincerely, without ulterior motives, and not only by dogs.

And this will be true happiness for him.

And as for our country, we will make it livable, on our own. Without malice and without the gnashing of teeth. Without made-up enemies and a self-serving “vertical”. Everybody together. For our children and our grandchildren.

We can do it. We are a people after all. And she – is ours. Russia.

Happiness to you, people.