Life as a Russian Prisoner

A moving essay from Mikhail Khodorkovsky, inmate at Penal Colony No. 7:

My family tells me that I also would not recognize Moscow: Many new buildings have gone up, and people look different, less Soviet.

Against the background of these changes, my world is practically standing still: There is little difference between the camp barracks on the Chinese border where I spent the first part of my term and my current barracks on the Finnish border. The people are also pretty much the same: Each has his own thoughts and his own unhappy fate.

But despite all the years that have passed, I have never become a part of this closed system, and I continue to live by the events taking place in Russia and the world. They reach me by way of newspapers and endless letters and the stories told by the people who are constantly coming in “from the outside.”

via Ten Years a Prisoner –


4 thoughts on “Life as a Russian Prisoner”

  1. Russia needs another Kruschev; a leader who can delegitimize the old all-powerful leader and his methods (Stalin) while maintaining his own and his government’s legitimacy and his party’s support. Putin is like Stalin; he was helped make Russia less democratic and implemented many unsuccessful economic policies in the name of Socialism and State control. If Russia cannot turn itself around, I am afraid that it will only become more of an Authoritarian state with a declining economy and an increasing risk of a resource curse. Russia needs to turn around and start working with the West again; we can help each other out, but only if Russia stops its downward spiral.

    1. I find your comment really interesting when you say that Russia needs another Kruschev, I had never thought about it that way but the fact of the matter is that, while Kruschev was in power, Russia did prosper. Today Putin’s ideology certainly gets in the way with multiple diplomatic solutions and there is always some kind of tension present, as if we were back in the cold war. It all comes clearer when I read this article where it says “The people are also pretty much the same: Each has his own thoughts and his own unhappy fate.” Its a shame that Russia is seeming to be moving backwards now.

  2. I would have to agree with both comments already made. The point made about ‘Russia needing another Kruschev’ is very apparent. Putin has been slowly reversing democratic ideologies in Russia. Putin has been in power too long in Russia. He abused his four years of presidency by adding years on to the term and then becoming second hand man to the president when he was out of power. Putin has, for many years now, been shaping the modern Russian government. His ideas are overpowering the weak democratic ideologies that are in place. I can see Putin developing into a modern Stalin.

  3. I enjoyed reading this article. Mikhail Khodorkovsky boldly states that, “the chances [are slim] that Mr. Putin’s inner circle would allow him to cede his presidential powers, even temporarily, a second time. He will not control what follows him”. I think this is very interesting. I like the thought-out possible solution to the power struggle in Russia that Khodorhovsky proposes. He argues that a non-violent movement needs to take place. A movement similar to one that was led by Nelson Mandela in South Africa a few decades ago. Even though he is in jail, his writing makes him seem like a trustworthy person and a potential leader of this non-violent movement.

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