Monday, September 22, 2014

Window on Eurasia: West’s Realpolitik has Convinced Putin He Can Do What He Likes, Khodorkovsky Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 22 – The West bears part of the blame for the crisis in Ukraine, Mikhail Khodorkovsky says, because its pursuit of “so-called ‘Realpolitik’” has convinced Vladimir Putin that “he and his entourage can do anything they want” and thus made the situation worse rather than better by encouraging Putin to become even more aggressive.


            In an interview published in “Der Spiegel,” the former Yukos head and longtime political prisoner said, however, that most of the blame for what has happened falls on what he calls “the irresponsible policy” of the Kremlin leader who refuses to accept that Ukraine has a right to make its own choices (


            In a second interview, given to Madrid’s “El Pais,” Khodorkovsky said that in his view, the Putin regime is nearing its end. He said that he was nonetheless “a pessimist” about the exact time because it could be “between two years if he makes mistake and 20” if he doesn’t.  Khodorkovsky said he hopes Putin will make mistakes and thus be removed.


            He added that civil society in Russia “has not disappeared although Putin has done everything he can to repress and divide those who are oriented toward Europe.” At the same time, the exiled leader said that he doesn’t feel any personal hostility to Putin: “for me, he is an opponent, with whom it will be interesting to compete,” Khodorkovsky continued.


            And in a third interview, this one with the French newspaper “Le Monde” on Saturday, he indicated that he just might do that: he said he did “not exclude” the possibility that he will become president of Russia if “this will be needed to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform.


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