The Kremlin’s recent moves against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the staff of his Open Russia Foundation only serve to underscore the widely acknowledged legal nihilism and corruption of the Putin regime and Putin's personal obsession with Mr. Khodorkovsky. Mr. Khodorkovsky, former head of Yukos Oil, was Russia's most successful businessman until he became the target of a campaign of persecution by the Kremlin and spent 10 years in prison - the result of trumped up charges and bogus convictions. Now out of prison, Khodorkovsky and the Open Russia Foundation continue to advocate effectively and fearlessly for democratic and legal reform in Russia and so, once again, they find themselves in the line of fire.
In the last few weeks, new false charges of murder have been filed against Mr. Khodorkovsky and in just the past few days most of his associates at the Open Russia Foundation have been subjected to unlawful raids of both their homes and offices. There can be little doubt that the new charges and the raids are in retaliation for Open Russia's publication of reports detailing the links between Putin's closest associates and the Russian mafia. These intimidation tactics are part and parcel of the Kremlin's modus operandi under Putin. It is this pattern of legal abuse that has brought the entire Russian legal system under widespread condemnation.
Despite his decade of unjust incarceration, Khodorkovsky has remained unbowed and has not stopped his criticism of the Russian government, recently saying that a new democratic revolution in Russia is "inevitable and necessary".
The Lantos Foundation believes it is vital that governments in the West lend their support to individuals and organizations like Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Open Russia Foundation that are supporting independent media, assisting Russia's political prisoners, and leading the charge against corruption and authoritarianism. These latest attacks against the forces of reform must be called out for what they are; blatant attempts to threaten and silence those who are fighting for a more just and democratic future for the Russia.