Voices from Russia

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Khodorkovsky Contradicts USA When Commenting on Crimea’s Reunion with Russia

00 Vitaly Podvitsky. A Crimean Salute. 2014

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There is a certain type of Russian liberal, who holds to particular beliefs with the same stubborn commitment as followers of a religious sect do. For these liberals, three such beliefs are paramount and to question them is heresy. The liberal catechism is as follows:

  1. V V Putin is Lucifer’s Viceroy on Earth. Everything he does is evil. Therefore, everyone who opposes him, almost by definition, is good.
  2. The USA is God. Its actions are wise and good especially when targeting Putin, the embodiment of evil.
  3. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is God’s representative in Russia; he’s a saintly figure, martyred for his beliefs.

Of these three, the third is the strangest. Khodorkovsky is an unlikely hero. Through a series of ruthless manipulations, he managed to capture control of a large part of the Russian oil industry, becoming Russia’s richest man.  His methods included setting up an intricate web of companies through which, according to the Russian courts, he defrauded his investors and minority shareholders. Besides this, according to both the Russian courts and the European Court of Human Rights, he systematically cheated the Russian state of billions in unpaid taxes. There were darker rumours as well… of methodical bribery and intimidation of officials and parliamentary deputies and even of contract killings, although since these remain unproven in court, perhaps, it’s better to avoid placing weight on them.  After all, the proven facts are bad enough.

In itself, that Russian liberals ever rallied to the cause of this man is a sign of their blindness to reality. That they persisted in doing this, whilst the European Court of Human Rights opposed him is testimony both to the fanaticism of their beliefs and to the extent of their blindness. Given the extent to which liberal belief in Khodorkovsky stands reality on its head, however, it was inevitable following his release at the end of last year that his actions would test this belief system to the breaking point.

Firstly, Khodorkovsky dismayed his liberal followers by saying that he didn’t intend to engage in politics. However, he then appeared to contradict himself when in March he turned up at Kiev’s Maidan Square and made a vitriolic speech supporting the seizure of power that had just happened there. Therefore, Russian liberals seem to contend that the Euromaidan movement was good, despite what the facts might say, just as they contended that Mikhail Saakashvili, the pathologically Russophobic former President of Georgia who launched the American-backed 2008 South Ossetia War, was also good for the same reason.

In March and September, Russian liberals marched through Moscow waving Ukrainian flags and chanting their support for the present Ukrainian régime. Of course, for such people, we must blame Putin, not the Maidan movement, for the Ukraine’s problems, despite what the facts might say; after all, the USA says that he is. Having pleased his Russian liberal followers by supporting the Maidan movement, then, Khodorkovsky pleased them further by announcing that he was going to involve himself in Russian politics after all.

The subsequent horror for these same Russian liberals when Khodorkovsky, in a series of tweets, that first avoided giving a straight answer, and then categorically confirmed that he wouldn’t hand over the Crimea to the Ukraine, is easy to imagine. God’s representative in Russia, the martyred Khodorkovsky, contradicted God, i.e., the USA, and appeared to side with Putin and evil against Maidan and good. Khodorkovsky’s refusal to return the Crimea makes perfect sense. The Crimea is a historic Russian land that only found itself part of an independent Ukraine because of an accident. Crimeans overwhelmingly consider themselves Russians, and they overwhelmingly want to be in Russia. The vast majority of Russians agree and support the Crimea’s reunification with Russia.  No political figure, not even Khodorkovsky, who wants the world to take Russia seriously, can argue otherwise.

If one thing has however become abundantly clear, it’s that Russian liberals simply don’t think in a serious political way. In order to remain firm in their beliefs, however factually wrong or even absurd they may be, and however much this distances them from the Russian people, is always more important. More important still, is retaining the favour of the USA, whose good opinion is of immeasurably greater value to them than is that of their own people, whom they hold in contempt.

Therefore, what this bizarre episode shows is the difficulty even Khodorkovsky would have if he tries to reach out beyond his liberal core supporters by challenging their beliefs. Since Khodorkovsky’s actual chances of attracting widespread support are in fact non-existent, the probability is that he’d fall back onto his liberal supporters and that they’d forget this “lapse”. That Russian liberals can’t accept reality even as it stares at them in the face, even when someone like Khodorkovsky tries to point this out to them, shows why they’re doomed to remain a politically isolated marginal force. This episode also teaches an important lesson for the USA and for the West. If even someone like Khodorkovsky realises that the handover of the Crimea to the Ukraine is an impossibility, then it’s never going to happen. That’s the simple truth, and the sooner the USA, the West and Kiev accept it, the better.

5 November 2014

Alexander Mercouris

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20141017/194223592.html

Editor:

”Liberal” in the Russian context means ”conservative” in the Anglosphere. That is, it denotes a belief in privatisation, deregulation, and unbridled laissez-faire crapitalism. A Russian “liberal” is an American “conservative”… they’re closer to Ted Cruz and Rod Dreher than they are to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. “Liberal” means someone who puts money and power above people and morality… true conservatives such as Bismarck, Stolypin, Ike, and Diefenbaker would disavow the Ted Cruzs and Rod Drehers of this world as ignorant grasping selfish peasants. Compare Ike’s Military Industrial Complex speech to the shit purveyed in the American Conservative. Ike or Pat Buchanan? Which do YOU prefer?

BMD

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