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Naive Khodorkovsky?

Pavel Khodorkovsky on Times Square last week.

Pavel Khodorkovsky on Times Square last week.

Last week RFE/RL correspondent Nikola Krastev caught up with Pavel Khodorkovsky, the 24-year-old son of jailed former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Pavel Khodorkovsky has been living in the United States since September 2003 and, on the advice of his father, has not returned to Russia since then. He was holding a picket in front of a U.S.-Russian business forum, trying to draw attention to his father’s case.

Krastev asked Khodorkovsky about a recently published exchange of letters between his father and novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya in which Mikhail Khodorkovsky says that he had been “backed into a corner from which there was no other honorable escape.” Pavel Khodorkovsky said he thinks his father actually believed he might get justice in Vladimir Putin’s Russia back then.

“I think that at the time my father was rather idealistic. He was innocent and he was confident he would be able to prove his innocence in court,” Pavel Khodorkovsky said. “But because neither the first nor the second trial was independent, he did not succeed. In retrospect, six years later, one can say that, yes, what he thought then was naïve. But at that time, he didn’t think so because there was a new president. There was a new wave of enthusiasm. People thought that these were changes for the better.”

Perhaps that’s what Mikhail Khodorkovsky meant when he told Ulitskaya that “a wise person most likely would have avoided such a fate.”

-- Robert Coalson

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The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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