Fellow Citizens! Friends!
We address this to all those who care
about Russia’s present and future, our future, the future of our
children and grandchildren; to all those, for whom history lessons
are not boring pages of schoolbooks, but are a part of our mutual
experience that allows us to look back on what’s happening to the
country and, therefore, to everyone of us, with the eyes of an
insider. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, poor or
rich, whether only your life depends on your choices or whether they
affect the lives of many. It’s the ability to make your own
decisions and bear the responsibility for them that matters. Only
then will we be able to call ourselves a nation and not a mob,
citizens and not slaves.
The last decade of the XXth century saw
the birth of the foundations of Russian society. It was a difficult,
and for many, painful process, because our history has made us used
to living outside citizenship, outside democracy. Due to the large
scale of the changes that took place in Russia this time became
known as an epoch. Changes brought us political and economical
rights and perspectives of building a new, flourishing society.
However, among victories there were losses, too, and that’s why one
cannot forget the famous sentence: ‘God bless you from living in
times of changes’. Let it be a reminder for us of the tragic fates
of the most active members and creators of the changes.
Unfortunately, the same sad pattern is repeating itself today before
our very eyes.
In the beginning of the XXIth century
we, without, noticing it, have found ourselves in a new epoch, which
became clear after the events of the 25 October and 7 December 2003.
After the period of reforms and revolutions came a Thermidor, that
gave birth to social stagnation; that forced away the active people,
the leaders of society, the most talented and brave.
One of the displays of Thermidor became
the attempt to terminate Yukos, one of the leading companies in
Russia. The ostentatious, unmotivated arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky
and his colleagues evokes nothing but perplexity and gives rise to
doubts about further development of Russian society. Having suddenly
discovered the violation of laws dating back to 5-8 years, the
General Prosecutor’s Office has made it a question of its competency
Today we have again returned to times
with no presumption of innocence – or how else can you regard the
public regrets of Mr Kolesnikov, the Deputy General Prosecutor, that
Khodorkovsky cannot be sentenced to more than 10 years; his
reasoning for Khodorkovsky’s guilt lies in low wages and pensions,
in the existence of orphans and teens ’who sniff glue’? These
statements rouse amazement at the qualification level of the
representatives of the Russian court, at the absence of their
professional ethics and responsibility for their words. These
accusations become even more blasphemous because they are addressed
to the company, which built in the regions of its activity one of
the best social infrastructures, which invests money in education,
like, for example, building a school for orphan children, whose
parents died while defending national interests. In this context
Kolesnikov’s words sound extremely cynical.
This is no place for discussing the
principal charges against Khodorkovsky – let us leave this matter to
the courts. Unfortunately, the closed nature of the court sessions
in the Khodorkovsky trial causes misgivings about the course of the
main trial. The unmotivated decision to keep the accused under
further arrest, public speculations about Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s
guilt makes us doubt the validity of General Prosecutor’s Office’s
accusations and also think about the selective application of law.
It’s hard to believe that in the ‘90s it
was Khodorkovsky who invented some special fraud scheme to avoid
paying taxes, whereas all other ‘heroes’ of privatization are
innocent. We think the selective revision of the results of the
privatization as a punishment for attempts to start a new,
‘transparent’ business, for creating a successful company, for
announcing openly your political views and preferences, for
financing the opposing parties, absolutely impermissible. We propose
to begin a wide social discussion of the economical amnesty, and are
sure that this kind of measures will help to get over the social
disunity, will help to strengthen trust and understanding between
various strata of society.
The result of this discussion should
become an effective and a human way out of the current unlawful and
unjust situation. Russian society and Russian business need a new
legislation that corresponds to the new historical circumstances and
that does not allow any problems with tax optimization, lobbyism and
many others. We call for the dialogue between society and authority,
hoping that this statement would become its modest beginning.
There’s no other alternative to such a
dialogue, otherwise, one morning we shall wake up in a country where
poverty and tyranny will be masked by justice and law.
Yes! – to rights! No! –
Freedom to Mikhail
Freedom to press!
Freedom to business!
Freedom and democracy to