An unlikely champion

What must be going through the minds of the entrepreneur, or the senior manager, or simply an ordinary educated, creative person, watching our trial and knowing that its result is absolutely predictable? The obvious conclusion is chilling in its stark simplicity: It is that the siloviki [powerful ministers] can do anything. …

A country that tolerates a situation in which the siloviki bureaucracy holds tens and even hundreds of thousands of talented entrepreneurs, managers and ordinary people in jail in its own interests, instead of and together with criminals, this is a sick country. A state that destroys its best companies; a country that holds its own citizens in contempt, trusting only the bureaucracy and the special services, is a sick state. …

I will not be exaggerating if I say that millions of eyes throughout Russia and the world are watching this trial. They are watching with the hope that Russia will still become a country of freedom and law, where the law is above the bureaucrat. Where supporting opposition parties is not a cause for reprisals. Where special services protect the people and the law, and not the bureaucracy from the people and the law. Where human rights no longer depend on the mood of the czar, good or evil. Where, on the contrary, power truly depends on the citizens and the court, only on law and God. Call this conscience, if you prefer.

I believe this will be. I am not a perfect person, but I am a person with an idea. For me, as for anybody, it is hard to live in jail, and I do not want to die there. But if I have to, I will. The things I believe in are worth dying for. I think I have proved this.

And you, my opponents? What do you believe in? That the bosses are always right? Do you believe in money? In the impunity of “the system”?

Your Honor! Much more than our two fates are in your hands. Here and now the fate of every citizen of our country is being decided: of those who do not intend to become victims of police lawlessness on the streets of Moscow and Chita, St. Petersburg and Tomsk or other cities and settlements; of those who have set up a business, built a house, achieved a measure of success and want to pass it on to their children — not to raiders in uniform — and, finally, of those who want to honorably carry out their jobs for a fair wage, not expecting to be fired at any moment by corrupt bosses.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s closing statement to the judge who, in December, will likely convict him of what many regard as trumped up tax charges.

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