The Russia conundrum by Mikhail Khodorkovsky
The Russia conundrum by Mikhail Khodorkovsky – how the West fell for Putin’s power gambit – and how to fix it – is written by a former russian oligarch. Despite profoundly disagreeing with him, I gave the book 4 stars. I did that for a few reasons. Firstly, the book is well written, it’s easy to follow and engaging. Secondly, Khodorkovsky talks about his experience in what seems as a realistic way, he is aware that he might be a target just as Skripal was. Thirdly, he looks like the best liberal russians have to offer. He has what might be considered a pro-Ukraine stance and he talked in Kyiv in 2014.
I would suggest reading this book. It offers an insight into russia of 1990s, the corruption and mafia state developing into what is now russia as a state. It also offers an insight into what we can expect from russia and that’s depressing. He blames the war on putin and says that is putin’s russia. It’s not like that, it’s russia’s putin. He says that russia has an 1000 years history and it can’t be ignored on the world stage. I disagree with that. 1000 years is nothing for any European state. The city I grew up in (which was not the capital) is over 2300 years old. As for ignoring, there are plenty of countries ignored. Maybe is time to start learning about the Singing Revolution instead of the October Revolution (or see it as toppling the Tsar when it was the 2nd one that particular year and the Tsar was no longer in charge, since March). There are plenty of countries, many in EU that deserve a more prominent position.
He talks about the war and what should happen after the war ends. As I don’t want to give out any spoilers, if you read the book, pay attention of what he has to say about topics such as: demilitarisation of russia, the denuclearisation of russia (Ukraine gave its nuclear weapons with reassurances from russia, US, and UK for protection), the payment of damages to Ukraine (and maybe Georgia), decolonisation or the idea of free (UN led) referendums in all the states that make up the russian federation to decide if they should continue within the federation or create their own path, and of handing out to the Hague of the ones who committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Kiev is used although the correct spelling of Kyiv appears too, but I think that is the problem with the publisher or editor and not his choice as both spellings are used.
The Russia conundrum by Mikhail Khodorkovsky
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My rating: 4/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: WH Allen
Year it was published: 2022
About the author: Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky is an exiled Russian businessman and opposition activist, now residing in London. In 2003, Khodorkovsky was believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia, with a fortune estimated to be worth $15 billion, and was ranked 16th on Forbes list of billionaires. He had worked his way up the Komsomol apparatus, during the Soviet years, and started several businesses during the period of glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in the mid-1990s, he accumulated considerable wealth by obtaining control of a number of Siberian oil fields unified under the name Yukos, one of the major companies to emerge from the privatization of state assets during the 1990s (a scheme known as “Loans for Shares”).
In 2001, Khodorkovsky founded Open Russia, a reform-minded organization intending to “build and strengthen civil society” in the country. In October 2003, he was arrested by Russian authorities and charged with fraud. The government under Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, then froze shares of Yukos shortly thereafter on tax charges. Putin’s government took further actions against Yukos, leading to a collapse of the company’s share price and the evaporation of much of Khodorkovsky’s wealth. In May 2005, he was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. In December 2010, while he was still serving his sentence, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were further charged with and found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering, Khodorkovsky’s prison sentence was extended to 2014. After Hans-Dietrich Genscher lobbied for his release, Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky, releasing him from jail on 20 December 2013.
There was widespread concern internationally that the trials and sentencing were politically motivated. The trial was criticized abroad for the lack of due process. Khodorkovsky lodged several applications with the European Court of Human Rights, seeking redress for alleged violations by Russia of his human rights. In response to his first application, which concerned events from 2003 to 2005, the court found that several violations were committed by the Russian authorities in their treatment of Khodorkovsky. Despite these findings, the court ultimately ruled that the trial was not politically motivated, but rather “that the charges against him were grounded in ‘reasonable suspicion'”. He was considered to be a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
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