Why is Putin Hunt­ing this Man?

An Open Let­ter to the Amer­i­can Peo­ple from Leonid Nev­zlin

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - Nev­zlin@nev­zlin.org Nev­zlin.live­jour­nal.com

Read­ing about the shock­ing court de­ci­sion in Moscow last week that sent Mikhail Khodor­kovsky back to prison for an ad­di­tional six years you might have thought, why worry about it? This must be a spe­cial case or a Rus­sian is­sue. The fact is this bru­tally un­just sen­tence proves once again that a Putin-con­trolled Rus­sia does not de­serve to be a part­ner in the fam­ily of demo­cratic na­tions, and that Putin him­self poses an im­me­di­ate threat to the Western World, par­tic­u­larly to the United States as the West’s lead­ing power. We all hoped that Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev would im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia. He spoke of “democ­racy,” “mod­ern­iza­tion,” and “the rule of law.” Not only have these words not been put into prac­tice, but Medvedev has turned out to be merely a pup­pet of the pre­ced­ing regime, with the strings pulled by the pup­pet mas­ter, Prime Min­is­ter Vladimir Putin. The rise of oil prices, to­gether with the rise to power of a cor­rupt en­ergy in­dus­try mafia; the steady dis­re­gard for hu­man rights and per­sonal lib­erty; the de­nial of free­dom of speech; and the den­i­gra­tion of an un­fet­tered, in­de­pen­dent le­gal sys­tem are all in­di­ca­tions of where Rus­sia is headed. Khodor­kovsky con­tin­ues to be vi­ciously tar­geted be­cause he coura­geously led the ac­tion to bring about change - change lead­ing to democ­racy and free­dom, virtues he saw in the United States and ad­mired. These are val­ues to which the Putin regime - a regime of cor­rup­tion and au­toc­racy - is un­com­pro­mis­ingly hos­tile. As a re­sult, Khodor­kovsky stands ac­cused of pre­pos­ter­ous crimes. I am a Rus­sian-born busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist and a Yukos share­holder who im­mi­grated to Is­rael shortly af­ter Putin took power. I’ve cho­sen to ad­dress the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­cause of my despair over this in­jus­tice, with the hope that the charges will even­tu­ally be over­turned. For­tu­nately, I am not alone in my crit­i­cism. The court’s de­ci­sion has been widely con­demned by pro­po­nents of true hu­man rights around the world, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union Par­lia­ment, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, and the U.S. Helsinki Com­mis­sion. But I’m afraid it’s not enough. Amer­i­can and world lead­ers must now raise their voices in protest. If not, more sham con­vic­tions will soon be handed down and Putin will be a step closer to steal­ing Khodor­kovsky`s life by keep­ing him be­hind bars for­ever. All for em­brac­ing ba­sic Western val­ues. The cor­rupt ver­dict against my close friend im­pli­cates us all. We must not sit pas­sively by and watch the de­struc­tion of life and free­dom in the fright­en­ing pup­pet theater that Rus­sia has be­come. Sin­cerely, Leonid Nev­zlin

“We must not sit pas­sively by and watch the de­struc­tion of life and free­dom in the fright­en­ing pup­pet theater that Rus­sia has be­come.”

– Nev­zlin

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