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Ending 2013. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, out of gaol, heads West …

  • December 29th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Mikhail_Khodorkovsky_2013-12-22_3Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil tycoon gaoled in 2005 and released this month (20.12.13), travelled to Berlin where he said he would be keeping out of Russia, and political life, for his immediate future.

One of the clutch of entrepreneurs who emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union as  billionaires, he had raised the ire of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, by backing some of his political opponents.

Picked up by police in 2003, charges and convictions were piled up against him, beginning with his gaoling for nine years, in 2005, for fraud, with the later addition of tax evasion, embezzlement and money laundering. A business partner Platon Lebedev was gaoled also, his case still to be reviewed.

The state intervened in the principal business interest of the two, the Yukos petroleum company, which was broken up, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky deprived of his fortune.

Set for release next year he became a candidate to benefit from the end-of-year amnesty for prisoners, which earlier saw two members of the Pussy Riot rock group, also close to the end of their terms, get out early. (They declared they would continue to campaign against the Putin government). A group of Greenpeace protestors arrested in the Arctic likewise benefited; see EUAustralia Online, Russia’s amnesty for Greenpeace crew, 19.12.13.

Berlin Wall Europa.euLobbying to get Mikhail Khodorkovsky free and away from the Russian jurisdiction,   brought back to centre stage, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, now 86, the long-serving German Foreign Minister deeply involved in  the process that saw the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

It was therefore somewhat symbolic that Mr Genscher, from the Free Democrats party, with involvement also on the part of the present German government, chose to bring the man out through Berlin.

Since the erection of the wall in 1961, the name of Berlin became associated with the ideal of freedom.

Ich bin BerlinerRESIZEIt was remembered again just in November, with fiftieth-year commemorations of the death of President John Kennedy (22.11.63). The President’s appearance at the Berlin Wall on 26.6.63, declaring “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner), was remembered as a pinnacle moment, (picture, JFK speaking notes). See EUAustralia Online: Ich Bin Berliner – update …, 26.6.13; JFK didn’t say he was a donut, 15.8.07.

In late 2013, Mr Khodorkovsky, after his hotel stay in Berlin, moved on to Switzerland where he was expected to find a place of exile.


BBC News, London, Profile: Mikhail Khodorkovsky,22.12.13., (29.12.13).