Why is Putin Hunting this Man?
An Open Letter to the American People from Leonid Nevzlin
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.”