Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Letter from a Russian prison

The former head of Yukos with a letter to the outside world. He warns:

I have already realized that wealth, and especially vast wealth, does not in itself make a person free. As a co-owner of Yukos, I had to make enormous efforts to protect this wealth. I had to limit myself in everything that might harm this possession.

I avoided saying many things, because speaking candidly could harm my possessions. I had to close my eyes to many things, to put up with many things, all for the sake of my assets, to preserve and to increase them. I controlled my possessions; they controlled me.

So I would like to warn young people today, those who will soon come to power: Do not envy those who have great wealth.

Do not think that their life is easy and comfortable. Property creates new possibilities, but it also paralyzes a person’s creative forces, it dilutes the personality. It is a cruel tyranny, the tyranny of property.

I have been transformed. I am becoming a normal person (economically, a member of the well-to-do middle class), for whom what is most important is not to acquire, but to live. The struggle now is not for property, but for myself, for the right to be myself.

In this struggle, popularity ratings, official contacts and public relations gimmicks are not important. All that is important is you, yourself – your feelings, ideas, talents, will, intellect and faith.

This is, indeed, the only possible and correct choice – the choice of freedom.

I have great pity for those authorities who sincerely believe that they are doing a good thing for the country, for the people. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Further down this road they will realize that repressive methods and the forced redistribution of wealth are not compatible with modern economic development. And they will not be able to limit this assault to Khodorkovsky, Yukos or the oligarchs – their victims will be many, including those who created this machinery.

My persecutors know that there’s not a shred of evidence of any guilt on my part. But that’s irrelevant, since they could always accuse me of something else – burning down the Moscow Manege, or economic counterrevolution. I’ve been told that they want to put me away for a long time – five years or more – because they fear that I will seek revenge.

These simple people judge others by themselves. Relax: I have no intention of becoming a Count of Monte Cristo. To breathe the spring air, to play with children studying at an ordinary Moscow school, to read good books – all this is so much more important, more right and more pleasant than multiplying wealth and settling scores.

I thank God that unlike my persecutors, I have understood that making more money is far from the only (or most important) goal of human endeavors.

For me, the time of big money is in the past. Now, freed from the burden of the past, I am determined to work for the benefit of those generations that will soon take charge of our country. Generations that will come with new values and new hopes.

2 thoughts on “Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Letter from a Russian prison”

  1. C’est vraiment dommage qu’il soit en prison. Ce Monsieur est une grosse tête. Il est évident qu’il constitue un obstacle pour ceux qui ont le pouvoir en Russie. Ils ont peur de Khodorkovsky. Sa force de Caractère est exceptionnelle.

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