He who places his hope on thee, O Virgin all-glorious, will prosper in all he does.

Inscription on Byzantine coin during reign of Romanus III

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Khodorkovsky Should Be Freed

'In which dusty cellar did they dig up the poisonous Stalinist spider who wrote this drivel?' Mr Khodorkovsky asked just hours before a Russian court rejected his appeal against a politically charged theft and money laundering conviction in December, while reducing his sentence from 14 years to 13. 'What long-term investments can be spoken of with such a justice system? There can be no modernisation at all without a clean-up of these cellars.'

Well said.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

Amen. Russia today is a cesspool of corruption with all trails leading to Uncle Vlady. People need to stop pretending that Russia is in anyway democratic or that there is anything remotely resembling the rule of law there. It is a cleptocracy with Putin as the Godfather.

Anonymous said...

Have either of you actually been to Russia? Do you know any Russian businessmen? Do you have any personal experience of Russia in the 90s? If the answer is no, then perhaps you should try to look at a bigger picture: I don't know a single Russian entrepreneur who doesn't support the Khordokovsky sentencing - to a person they say it was necessary to break the oligarchs hold on society.

That said, yes corruption is endemic: but John is also wrong in an important way - there is nothing Putin can do to stop it. This myth of Putin having magical powers and control over the state is absurdist: most of the pm directives are ignored. The regime goal is stability - and in the intermediate term it seems to be working, though the tradeoffs are noxious and it's unlikely to work in the long run. Freeing an economic criminal may be the American way, but hardly something that will do Russia any good.

The issue of democracy is separate - there again we are looking at something that is unlikely to be an instrumental good in the Russian context.

Visibilium said...

You're correct that Putin's power isn't limitless--the recent BP failure demonstrates its limits. Thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

I just don't think you get it - the power to control the state is not with Putin. The only way he could achieve that is with a return to Stalinism, which is clearly not what is happening. Right now we are seeing an attempt to maintain an unstable equilibrium. Frankly it will fail in the long run - but everyone is nervous about what comes next.

Look Russia experienced the nightmare world of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism in the 90s. No one wants to go back there except mentally ill americans. Before that, all social instiutions that might have supported a relatively balanced society were exterminated in the Soviet years - not many people want that either, except for the scared and hungry. My sense is that the only hope lies generations out and by necessity will need to grow out of a spiritual revival - but does anyone really want that either? Right now, I'd say no.

But honestly critiques from Americans who simply do not understand what Russia is and why is happening are profoundly unhelpful.

Visibilium said...

I"d wish that Rothbard had been the guide, but, alas, mistakes were made. The only issue is that of political liberty, which you don't believe that the Russians merit.

Anonymous said...

"Mistakes were made": yes, that's one way to look at it. I'd say the system worked exactly as intended.

In any case, you have no idea what I think Russians merit, but here, I'll spell it out: the best this life has to offer. I would like to see the Russian people obtain to Salvation in the Holy Orthodox Church, the re-establishment of a healthy social fabric with roots in traditional Russian life, and a return to a developed civilization, with its art, music and culture. I'd like to see peace within the Russian Federation and with her neighbors. I would especially like to see Russian society eliminate the cancer of corruption at all levels.

What I personally would not like to see is capitalism in its unrestrained form take hold in Russia ever again, which is essentially the model implied by the original post.

Visibilium said...

Thanks for the clarification. I see that in your airy wish list you've omitted any mention of private property rights and the right of all Russians--including "oligarchs"--to be secure in their property and persons against Putin State depredations.