Given Free Publicity On NTV, Khodorkovsky Only Incriminates Himself Further

Following the failure of Khodorkovsky’s appeal against his prison sentence for theft and money laundering, state-owned NTV aired a positive segment on his case on national prime time. Most sides of the story were mentioned: Amnesty International’s designation of him as a “prisoner of conscience”, the Kremlin’s view that it was only the criminal justice system at work, the allegations that the judge Viktor Danilkin was pressured into denying MBK’s appeal, etc. You can see the video below.

But I found only one thing noteworthy in particular. When asked in the May 29th program on what he thought about the reduction of his sentence by one year, Khodorkovsky replied: “I’m uninterested in the cosmetic tricks of the judicial bureaucrats. The statement that oil in Siberia has to be sold at Rotterdam prices is too bizarre to comment on.” Read between the lines. Of course it’s rational – as opposed to bizarre – to sell it to your offshore companies at low prices, thus robbing the Russian government of tax revenue, before selling it at world prices and profiting off the difference. That is essentially what he was convicted of and as I see it he so much as admitted it.

He also restated his conviction that his prosecution is politically motivated, thus going against a recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. That story was passed over quickly, as Western pundits continue shilling for Khodorkovsky for all they’re worth.


  1. Yalensis says:

    The Guardian report on the European court ruling was surprisingly balanced. I had seen other Western reports on that story, and if you just skimmed the headline without delving into the details, it looked like Khodorkovsky had won the ruling. (Because the Europeans awarded him a few bucks to alleviate his suffering, while still basically confirming his conviction.) One thing I have been confused about – what exactly is this European court, and why would it have any jurisdiction over Russian criminal cases? Does anyone know the history behind this? Is this some relic from the Yeltsin era?

    • Agreed. Vast majority of headlines read “MBK’s rights Violated”; exceptions were The Guardian and most Russian sources.

      The ECHR is a body of the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member like every European country bar Belarus. It’s a fairly useful institution to belong, albeit with a limited loss of judicial sovereignty. Limited because while binding, rulings cannot be enforced beyond expulsion from the Council.

  2. Amnesty International has discredited itself once more with their brazen political categorization of Khodorkovsky as a political prisoner. Russia has criminal laws and Khodorkovsky violated them. Whether he wanted to run for president or is a good friend of western interests are totally irrelevant. Also, it is totally irrelevant whether Russian prosecutors apply the law selectively or not. The exact same thing happens in the USA. In fact, in the USA financial crimes carry much, much longer sentences as the owners of Adelphia Cable have experienced. Khodorkovsky’s fraud and and trail of dead bodies are simply not in the rinky dink class of Adelphia.

    The west’s hate for all things Russian is beyond obscene. To try to foist this variant of Al Capone (consider the privatization of Apatit; whether Khodorkovsky was doing the killing himself or not is secondary) as some dissident martyr is just sick. Do the western elites think that this nauseating propaganda will convince Russians to kiss their arse? If not, why are they so worried about dirtying the image of Russia in the west when hate for Russia is already culturally ingrained? Even westerners who exert a modicum of effort to follow this case will fail to see the martyr aspect and may perhaps note the lack of dozens of other political prisoners that surely would be there if the Russian regime was all that it was cracked up to be.

    • Yalensis says:

      @kirill: I have always argued that Russia should engage in strict tit-for-tat retaliation against Western propaganda, even at the cost of being ridiculous. For example, every time Western government or institution demands release of Khodorkovsky, Russia should name Bernie Madoff prisoner of conscience and demand his release from prison!
      P.S. Agree Amnesty International is sad caricature of respected organization that it used to be.

  3. donnyess says:

    Hillary Clinton should nominate this guy for the Charles A. Levine “lifetime intrepid fool” award…as “the man who bested Putin”.

  4. Once again, borrowed from the article written about Boris Nemtsov – in which he also claimed the “Prisoner of Conscience” label – the definition: “Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence. We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own.”

    By definition, Bernie Madoff IS a prisoner of conscience. He honestly holds the opinion that there was nothing inherently wrong or dishonest about running a $50 Billion Ponzi scheme which wrecked the market, and discredited the entire hedge fund concept that most who knew anything about how it worked already found pretty sketchy. The United States government has no right to continue holding this financial paragon, who once had all of Wall Street spread out at his feet, and keep him from spreading his message on how to get rich quick. FREE BERNIE MADOFF!!!!!

    Interesting, Kirill, that you link Khodorkovsky and Al Capone – because the excellent blog Truth and Beauty just published an article that strongly agrees, here:

    Steve Allen suggests that, like Capone, Khodorkovsky is going down the river for tax evasion because nobody is willing to testify against him for murder. The article also features a translation of the letter received nearly 13 years ago to the day, by the Boris Yeltsin government from the mayor of Nefteyugansk, begging for intervention against the “murderous policies” of YUKOS in that city. Eleven days later he was shot down in the street outside his office. Check it out, see what you think. Al Capone isn’t really very far off.

  5. georgesdelatour says:

    What do you think of Sergei Magnitsky’s allegations against other Khodorovsky-style tax evaders – allegations which seem to have got him killed?

    • From the limited knowledge I have of the Magnitsky affair, I can only condemn the corrupt MVD officials, whatever oversight agencies that let it happen on their watch, and whoever is responsible for continuing to keep the affair under wraps.

  6. Kevin Rothrock says:

    This is a reference to the first conviction’s charges, yes? Time already served?