‘We will not be intimidated’

January 10, 2015

The following statement was issued by Mikhail Khodorkovsky:

Yesterday, at a CNN studio, I saw some horrifying footage from Paris. Terrorists toting assault rifles shot unarmed people virtually at point-blank range and finished off in cold blood those wounded.

I immediately responded to this brutal and senseless violence against journalists, calling for solidarity from media across the world. I sought to show that the terrorists would not achieve their barbaric goals, that the answer to such an event could only be unity and protection of freedom of speech.

In response to my statement the Kremlin’s spin masters have launched a campaign in which they are deceitfully trying to portray my refusal to be pushed around by the murderers as some kind of disrespect to Muslims.

The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly called me his personal enemy and expressed a hope that there would be “volunteers” to make short work of me.

I have heard and noted that threat from a loyal supporter of Vladimir Putin. The vector of the threat is identical to yesterday’s terrorist attack in Paris, its purpose being to intimidate, deprive one of one’s voice, and shut me up.

However I said it yesterday and I will repeat it today – we will not be intimidated. We will steadfastly uphold freedom of speech – a basic value of the modern society. I am convinced that the vast majority of Muslims understands and supports this position.

Freedom of speech is a million of different voices. Not always do these voices speak, write or draw what we like or what we find acceptable or appropriate. Yet each of those million voices needs to be protected by society. Each will continue to be heard.

Terrorists have attacked Charlie Hebdo in order to silence not just those who believe that no taboo areas exist when it comes to humor, but also hundreds of thousands of others. It is our duty to make sure that this goal will never be achieved. So that voices that have been cut short can be replaced with hundreds of thousands of new voices, all of them resonant and confident.

The Kremlin propagandists are wasting their time setting fanatics on me. I am confident that honest Muslims around the world sympathize with those who have died in the attack and only view my words as a call for support and solidarity, as refusal to submit.

Terrorists can issue threats and they can even take a life. But they cannot deprive society of its voice. Freedom of speech cannot be shot at point blank range.