We are thrilled by the news this morning that Mikhail Khodorkovsky could shortly be pardoned and freed after 10 years of unjust incarceration. The Lantos Foundation has been actively protesting his political prosecution, rigged conviction, and continued incarceration throughout this shameful miscarriage of justice. We also welcome the fast track progress of an amnesty bill in the Russian Duma that could lead to the release of the young women of Pussy Riot and the lifting of charges against the Green Peace activists. These are all positive steps and we hope they are the harbinger of more reforms to come.
The announcement this morning indicated that Mr. Khodorkovsky would be released soon. We are cautiously optimistic, but we cannot celebrate this progress, until the deeds match the words. We hope that before the Holidays Mikhail is safely reunited with his loving family and amnesty is granted to the many other political prisoners in Russia.
As the world’s eyes turn to Russia for the upcoming Sochi Olympics, we hope that these steps towards reform and compassion will prove to be more than short-lived public relations gestures. Our hope for the people of Russia is that these actions represent a genuine desire to return to greater democracy and to build a society where the rule of law is respected, robust civil society is celebrated, and people are free to express themselves.
In this holy season, the freeing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky gives many of us cause to celebrate and to hope for a coming year with greater peace and goodwill towards all people.