Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky vows to fight for Russian political prisoners at a press conference at Berlin. These men and women are behind bars for only one reason that they defied Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB head when he became the president of Russia.
Khordokovsky said he has no future political ambitions. He thanked Germany, especially the former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher for helping him gain freedom. He said that he will continue to fight for the freedom of all the political prisoners in Russia.
It is to be noted that there is hardly any difference between Putin’s way of governing Russia than the Czars and the communists before him. To the world he maybe an elected representative of the Russian people but in reality he is an autocrat and a dictator of the worst kind.
Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia when he was put behind bars by Putin in 2003. His oil company Yukos was broken down and sold to different bidders. The chief beneficiary of this move was the state oil company– Rosneft. Presently, Rosneflt is headed by a close ally of Putin.
Khodorkovsky was charged and later sentenced for fraud and tax evasion. The political analysts hold that his arrest was politically motivated. He was guilty of helping Putin’s political opponents in cash and kind. Majority of the political analysts believe that it was his political views that landed him in trouble and not the trumped-up charges of stealing oil and of tax evasion.
It is also widely held by the political pundits that Khodorkovsy had been a free man, a long time ago, had he sought pardon from Putin. Khodorkovsky to date holds that he did not seek pardon because it would have meant accepting guilt. Kremlin stated on his release that he was freed on humanitarian grounds and that he asked for pardon from Putin. Khodorkovsky, though, is adamant that he didn’t ask for any such pardon from Putin.
According to Khodorkovsky most of those still languishing behind bars are innocent and their only crime is that they don’t agree with Putin’s political views. Khodorkovsky, time and time again during the press conference in an emotional filled voice, repeated his vow to fight for all the political prisoners being held by the Putin administration.
It is widely believed by the political commentators that the present amnesty is a timely political ploy by Putin. Khodorkovsky also holds similar views. According to him the present amnesty is a political gimmick. A poly employed by Putin to ease international criticism against Russia for its human rights violations, ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The present amnesty signed by Putin released over 20,000 thousand prisoners. The two members of the Pussy Riot Band and the Greenpeace activists detained by Russian authorities for protesting on an oil rig in Arctic were the other high-profile prisoners that were released under this amnesty.
Furthermore, Khodorkovsky asked of the leaders of all the free countries of the west to help him in his endeavor. He said in the press conference in Berlin that he will fight for the release of all the political prisoners in Russia until his last breadth.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada
The Washington Post