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my sincerest sympathy for gorbachev's death tomorrow from tripping on his own shears...
...and, when he seemed about to recover, suddenly felt the icy hand of death upon him.
We get what we deserve.
------------------ “On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson..they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had 1 sacks last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end. This genius move was followed by trading out of a spot where they could have gotten the last decent receiver in Robert Ferguson and settled for tackle Matt Light, who will not help any time soon.”
Over the past six months, I’ve written three columns about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch who has been in prison since 2003, charged, tried, convicted — and recently reconvicted — on transparently bogus tax and embezzlement charges.
Partly, I keep returning to the subject because his lengthy imprisonment offends my sense of justice; his real crime, after all, was challenging Vladimir Putin, the Russian strongman. More importantly, Khodorkovsky’s fate stands as a powerful illustration of Russia’s biggest problem: the contempt the country’s corrupt rulers have for the rule of law.
Yet after each of those columns, I received feedback saying, essentially, that Khodorkovsky deserved what he got. Even if the crimes for which he went to prison were fictitious, he undoubtedly did bad things on his way to becoming Russia’s richest man. “He stole Russian national resources, truly the wealth of the nation,” read one e-mail, referring to Khodorkovsky’s role in founding the now-defunct oil company Yukos. “I have zero sympathy for him.”
And that’s the real point, isn’t it? Khodorkovsky’s illegal jailing leads, inevitably, to Magnitsky’s death. It leads the powerful to have troublesome journalists beaten or killed with no consequences. It allows plutocrats to steal companies from shareholders, to jail whistle-blowers, to extort with impunity. The rule of law either applies to everyone or no one. You can’t carve out exceptions.
I am proud of the fact that among thousands of employees at YUKOS, after 7 years of persecution, none have agreed to give false testimony, to sell their soul and conscience.
Dozens of people have been personally threatened, have been cut off from family and friends, and thrown in prison. Some have been tortured. But, even though they lost their health and years of their lives, they preserved what they considered most important, their human dignity.
Those who started this shameful case – [First Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri] Biryukov, [Investigator Salavat] Karimov and others - at that time contemptuously called us “traders”, regarding us as scum, ready to do anything to protect our prosperity and escape prison.
Years have passed. And who turned out to be the scum? Who lied, torture and took hostages for the sake of money, and because they were afraid of the bosses?
And this is what they called a “matter of state”!
I am ashamed for my country.
Your honour, I think we all perfectly understand the significance of our trial extends far beyond the fates of Platon [Lebedev] and myself. And even beyond the fates of all those who have innocently suffered in the course of the reprisals against YUKOS that have taken place on such a huge scale, those I found myself unable to protect, but about whom I have not forgotten. I remember every day.
Let’s ask ourselves, what does the entrepreneur, the top class organizer of production, or simply an educated, creative individual, think today looking at our trial and knowing that the result is absolutely predictable?
The obvious conclusion a thinking person would come to is chilling in its simplicity: the bureaucratic and law enforcement machine can do whatever it wants. There is no right of private property. No person who conflicts with the “system” has any rights whatsoever.
Even when enshrined in law, rights are not protected by the courts. Because the courts are either also afraid, or are part of the “system”. Does it come as a surprise that thinking people do not strive to realize themselves here in Russia?
Who will modernize the economy? Prosecutors? Police officers? The security services? We have already attempted modernization like that and it did not work. We were able to build a hydrogen bomb, and even a rocket, but we still can’t make our own first rate modern televisions, our own cheap, competitive, modern cars, our own modern mobile phones, as well as a whole lot of other modern goods.
But then we have learnt how to put on a beautiful display of obsolete models of foreign companies, produced here in Russia, while the rare creations of Russian inventors, if they do find application, find it not here in our own country but abroad
Whatever happened to last year’s presidential initiatives in the realm of industrial policy? Have they been buried? But they offered a real chance to kick the oil addiction. Why buried? Because to put them into practice the country needs not just one Korolev, and not just one Sakharov, under the protective wing of an all-powerful Beria and his million-strong host, but hundreds of thousands of Korolevs and Sakharovs, protected by just and comprehensible laws and independent courts that will give life to these laws, and not just a place on a dusty shelf, as happened in its day to the Constitution of 1937.
Where are these Korolevs and Sakharovs today? Have they left the country? Are they getting ready to leave? Or have they gone again into “internal emigration”? Or have they hidden themselves among the grey bureaucrats so as not to be crushed by the “system”?
We, citizens of Russia, patriots of our country, can and must change this.
How can Moscow become a financial centre for Eurasia if our prosecutors, in a public trial, directly and unambiguously, just like 20 or 50 years ago, demand that the striving to increase production and capitalization of a private company be classified as a criminal, mercenary objective, for which a person ought to be locked up for 14 years?
Gorby needs to be careful about Pluronium in his soup....
"Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don't. I don't know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don't know who picks the combine, for that matter," Belichick said. "How does (Miami-Ohio offensive lineman Brandon) Brooks not get invited to the combine? How did Vollmer not get invited to the combine? I don't know. We can't really worry about that. We just have to try to evaluate them the best we can."