Open letter to Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Dear Mikhail,
I just read your letter in The New York Times: ten years in prison, to the day. You moved from a camp along the Chinese border to a camp near Finland, but the situation and the people around you haven’t changed. What seems to have changed is your patience. I remember you from TV as a slightly agitated man, used to quick answers and solutions, impatient with the stupid, maybe even a bit arrogant. Reading your letter I find a wise man, with excellent ideas about a better collaboration between Europe and Russia, a keen analyst of the way a peaceful revolution should be organized and how revenge is never a good motivator. I admire your talent to stay a free man within the context the authorities have forced you in. Ten years without your children, family and friends, and still full of hope and energy. We see a lot of Russian authority these days in The Netherlands. We almost feel Putin at our doorstep when he puts the ‘ hooligan’ crew of the Greenpeace ship behind bars, when he despises the Dutch police for intervening in the private affairs of a Russian diplomat in The Hague (he was hitting his children, probably drunk) or when he is condescending about our king. You are right: Putin behaves like an emperor and even if he steps down from his throne, a new emperor will follow, just as you warn us in your letter. As Europeans we should help the opposition in Russia to become a democracy. You can direct the opposition from your jail, via the free press. Let’s move on and collaborate for a better Europe, a more complete Europe, where citizens don’t stand by and watch, but get into action.

No bars have ever stopped a revolution. Yours is ours. Don’t despair, somehow we will get you out of there. Have a another wise day, Mikhail.

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