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By Itar-Tass Political Analysis Center
MOSCOW, December 25. /ITAR-TASS/. News conference that the former Russian oil business captain Mikhail Khodorkovsky held in Berlin the next day after his release from jail in Russia has disappointed Russia’s liberalist opposition and the factor that caused their dismay was the former oligarch’s unaggressive tonality, a call for refraining from politicization of the forthcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, a renunciation of political activity, and a refusal to finance the opposition, political analysts in Moscow say.
Khodorkovsky expressed a pragmatic attitude to President Vladimir Putin, saying: “I should admit that my family was not affected by the situation /Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment - Itar-Tass/ and it has always been treated loyally and that’s why I didn’t perceive this standoff /with the authorities/ overly emotionally.”
Somewhat earlier, he said he was glad at Putin’s decision.
He also called for refraining from politicization of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. “Let’s not spoil this feast for millions of people,” he said.
When a reporter asked him what he could possibly recommend to the activists staying under arrest in Russia in connection with the May 6, 2012, political riot on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow, Khodorkovksy said he would recommend thinking more about themselves in the first turn.
The news conference was followed by a wave of accusations in the mass media claiming that the former leader of the Open Russia organization had struck a deal with the authorities.
Itar-Tass Center for Political Analysis polled political scientists and analysts on the possible causes of a change of the attitude to Khodorkovsky on the part of those who had seen as a banner for quite some time.
Khodorkovsky’s release from prison as such is a factor of dismay for the liberal quarters, said Dr. Sergei Chernyakhovsky.
“These people who seemed to have spent so many efforts for a campaign to support him didn’t need his release from prison under any circumstances - they needed a martyr and that’s why they kept hyping him up,” he said.
More specifically, Dr. Chernyakhovsky believes that the liberals have been disenchanted by his refusal to sponsor them in the future.
Analyst Oleg Matveichev believes that the former oligarch was a hostage of his own proponents for quite some time and it was they who eventually goaded him into a prison term.
“While other oligarchs were engaging in commerce quietly, he was trying to implement his political ambitions at the instigation of liberals,” he said. “Quite possibly, someone from inside the liberalistic milieu recommended that he sell a third of the Russian oil industry to the U.S and to get engaged in political struggle for the monies brought in by the transaction.”
“These plans and ambitions eventually landed him in the faraway Siberia,” Dr. Matveichev said.
Publicist Anatoly Vasserman said, in his turn, that Khodorkovsky had always been much more of a businessman than of a politician.
“From the very beginning, Khodorkovsky was not a politician in the pure form and his willingness to finance the politicians across the entire political spectrum actively proceeding from the saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is a different story,” he said.
“Since financing of that kind didn’t bring any dividends to Khodorkovsky, he would unlikely keep the practice going,” Vasserman said. “That’s why the people who had harbored the hopes for a resumption of previous lavish financing somehow got disillusioned.”
Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Izvestia daily Boris Mezhuyev said he had been stunned by the indiscretion of the disappointed liberal commentators.
“Everybody was frustrated over the absence of curses addressed to Putin or calls for active opposition and no one gave a thought to Khodorkovsky’s plans to help Platon Lebedev /his former closest business partner - Itar-Tass/, who is still behind bars, to get out of jail,” Mezhuyev said. “These commentators sometimes break out of the boundaries of elementary human decency.”
Analyst Roman Nossikov aired a somewhat differing viewpoint by saying that Khodorkovsky would most likely continue political activity in the future and his current statements, which were markedly non-aggressive, meant he was trying not to frighten away the electorate.
“I think President Putin also presupposed Khodorkovsky’s participation in a future political project of some kind when he was taking a decision to pardon the man,” Nossikov said.