Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Chiming in

I don't really have a lot to add on the whole Khodorkovsky under arrest scandal. I think most parties are agreed that:

A) Okay, he was no angel back in '91.

B) His business, Yukos Oil, (now Yukos/Sibneft, the 4th largest global oil producer) became in the intervening decade, a model of transparency and accountability, and Khodorkovsky himself engaged successfully with Western political and business leaders, donated millions of dollars to philanthropic causes, and boosted Russia's economy and foreign investor's confidence in Russia.

C) None of those business tycoons were angels back in '91. In fact, they are all criminals.

D) Only the politically active, insufficiently obsequious guys seem to get pinched by Putin.

E) This is a politically motivated arrest that will cast a pall over Russia's investment climate, dampen its previously thriving stock market, and discourage further development of private enterprise. It also opens the door to all kinds of speculation on Putin's true colors, his political will for reform, and the future of economic and political developments in the country.

So I also agree with all that. I only have two points to add to the debate: anybody who slyly suggests that these oligarchs are almost all Jewish and that the arrests of Berezovsky, Gusinsky, and Khodorkovsky were motivated by anti-Semitism needs to get a clue. Yes there is rampant anti-semitism in Russia, but it's not guiding domestic policy, especially when there's tons of way better excuses such as money and power; and, the infamous prison that Khodorkovsky is staying in? Matrosskaya Tishina? It means, according to me, "Sailor's Silence," which is kind of poetically creepy.


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