Monday, May 16, 2005

A Day of Reckoning Will Come

A Day of Reckoning Will Come

Today we will know what sentence the disciplined court in Moscow has decided to give Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

It was a political trial from the very first minute, and it will undoubtedly be a political verdict.

I vividly remember the day he was arrested. Black commandos stormed an aircraft he was using in the early morning hours at the airport in Novosibirsk. He was on his way to Moscow and a meeting that I was attending as well.

There was profound shock among the other Russian business leaders there. Some feared an outright return to Soviet days. Several started to speak about what their parents had told them about the 1930's. No one doubted the hand of the Kremlin behind the arrest.

Since then we have seen the carefully staged trial. And it was certainly no coincidence that the verdict was delayed until after world leaders had left Mocow after the May 9 celebrations.

My own bet is that the Kremlin will do whatever it can to keep Khodorkovsky in prison as long as Putin is in power.

To free him would simply be too politically dangerous. He might emerge from prison not as a defeated, but as a strengthened, personality.

But we'll see.

In the meantime, the editorial in todays Moscow Times that I have linked to is certainly worth reading.