Anthony Mamo shares his views on the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Yesterday, by virtue of executive order #922 signed by the President of Russia himself, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed from prison and is now in Germany visiting his seriously ill mother.
Khodorkovsky became a household name in 2003, after his arrest on his private jet in a remote part of Russia, just by the Volga river. Until that moment he was one of the original infamous oligarch’s who were involved in the ‘cash for shares’ scheme which allowed a handful of chosen ones to take control of their nation’s wealth, thus becoming Russia’s wealthiest man and the 16th richest on the planet before the age of 40.
Khodorkovsky’s mistake was to harbour political ambitions – an objective which went against an alleged private agreement between the oligarchs and the then newly elected Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Khodorkovsky, who by his own admission is “a far from perfect man” wished for his country to move from what he termed a “managed economy” to one which would align itself with western practices, both in the political and business spheres.
Instead, Khodorkovsky and his associates were convicted of fraud and tax evasion. In 2010, he was further convicted of money laundering and at the time few believed he would ever be released from one of Russia’s hardest prisons.
Now, ten years later and just five days before Christmas Mikhail Khodorkovsky is finally a free man, but we can only guess what he will do next. Many believe that Mr Putin has made a huge mistake by signing order #922, effectively freeing Russia’s most famous prisoner and by far his strongest political nemesis. Others, such as myself would not blame him for stepping into the shadows to lead a quiet life perhaps in London or Tel Aviv. Ten years must have taken their toll, both mentally and physically.
From our little island in the Mediterranean we salute you Mr Khodorkovsky and wish you well – Za Zdorovie!
Anthony Mamo is a new contributor to The Steeple Times who is based in Malta.
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