‘Khodorkovsky will be dragged into politics even if he doesn’t want to’
“I'm not planning to be involved in politics, which I've already made clear in my letter to President Putin, and confirmed many times," Khodorkovsky told the world on Sunday. He said, however, he was going to “do everything” to fight for the rights of “political prisoners” in Russia.
Political commentator Aleksandr Nekrassov believes that despite carefully chosen words, Khodorkovsky has already got himself involved in politics.
RT:Khodorkovsky says there will be no more politics or business for him. Do you believe him?
Aleksandr Nekrassov: Well, I think he chose his words very carefully, but he made one mistake of course when he said he is not going to be involved in politics anymore and then a bit later was saying that he is going to try and help political prisoners in Russia. It sounds a bit odd, because if you are helping political prisoners that sort of makes you involved in politics automatically.
It will be very difficult for Mr. Khodorkovsky to stay away from politics and this press conference shows us that’s the case. As regards his business ventures.. Well, he is a wealthy man, he has managed to keep a lot of his money abroad, so yes, in one sense he probably will not be openly involved in any business. But on the other hand, part of his empire exists in America, there are about 11 of 12 top managers from Yukos living in Britain. So there will be some business obviously.
RT:But what does he mean when he says he'll fight for the rights of political prisoners in Russia?
AN: It’s difficult to explain what he means, but what it implies is that he will continue to be involved in some sort of political activity. Because for some people, for example, some of these “political prisoners” are not political prisoners, but criminals. So already he is getting involved in politics here, in a debate of it. I think he will be dragged into politics even if he does not want that.
RT:He talked about other, what he called, “political prisoners” including Alexey Pichugin, the former YUKOS chief of security who was sentenced to life for murder. How can Khodorkovsky call for his release, yet hold himself up as a symbol of civil society?
AN: Well, I think it’s very difficult to say that the likes of Pichugin can be called political prisoners if the court finds them guilty of murder. I think it is a very tough call here. And I think some other people, whom Khodorkovsky is going to call – or considers to be – political prisoners are going to be a tough call as well.
We also need to understand one thing: Mr. Khodorkovsky broke the rules of the game. And I don’t understand why nobody is talking about it.
Mr. Khodorkovsky for example was presiding during the embarrassing collapse of the Menatep bank, even before he was in charge of Yukos, when millions of people were denied their savings and never recovered them. So for him to call himself a brilliant manager or to say that he was a good manager, I think it is taking it a bit too far. And also with Yukos, it was not a clear-cut picture, you can’t really say that this was a company that did everything by the rules, by the book.
So, on the one hand of course he can always claim that he was himself a political prisoner, but on the other hand, he did break the rules. And I remember it clearly when he was arrested, that day I was flying out of Moscow to London and I had a call from one of the officials from the Ministry of Finance to explain me what actually happened and what’s going to happen. And he told me quite clearly that Mikhail Khodorkovsky overstepped the line, he broke the arrangement with the Kremlin. And the arrangement was that none of the oligarchs meddle in politics. They were not prosecuted for any of their old sins, but they were told not to meddle.
Khodorkovsky did that. By the way, some of the other oligarchs supported that idea, I’m not mentioning them here, but that was the case. And I remember at the time the response in the country was nothing of the sort that the media here is trying portray: that there was an uproar, and that people were asking why it happened?
The people were asking another thing: “Why is only Khodorkovsky answering for his sins, why not other people?”
So I think that if Khodorkovsky really wanted to show the world he is not going to be involved in politics, he would not even have held this press conference to say these things that have double meaning.