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Interview with Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky is an exiled Russian businessman, philanthropist and former oligarch, now resident in Switzerland. We interviewed him about Democracy and the future of Russia.

FTN: Michail Borrissowitsch, we are very happy that we can ask you a questions, just one. Many people in Germany, a lot of experts and politicians believe that Russia is not ready for democracy and freedom. They think that democracy and the rule of law work in the West. But that it doesn’t fit for Russia. That Russians need a strong leader. What do you say to that?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Today, at a time, when a lot of Russian people live Western Europe, in America, or in other countries you can see that they integrate very well into democratic societies. They cause no problems at all.

It would be ludicrous to claim that people who are able as individuals to integrate and strive for democracy, would prefer something different in their own country. No, Russians are no different from other Europeans.

We want to live in a democratic country too. We want to build such a country. Another thing is that we have a difficult historical experience a difficult legacy that is connected to the communist experiment. But we will work it out.

FTN: Are you optimistic that this will happen in our lifetime let’s say within the next twenty years?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: For starters we have to decide how long we want to live. We both see that the generation that was born since around the 80s is made up of very different people.

When this Generation is the majority in Russia, and demographically it will already in five years make up an essential part of Russian society, changes will become inevitable. In twenty years there will be barely any pensioners who, like us, can remember soviet times.

It will become something like the Roman Empire something you know only from history class. And you will tell the teachers well, something like that didn't exist.

FTN: Now the third but last question. Can there be a positive development with Putin or only without him?

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: I don't see how Putin at his advanced age and his diminishing understanding of what is good for Russia can change in a substantial manner I believe that for such changes a regime change is not the only but a necessary condition.

I wish Vladimir Vladimirowitch a long life but not in power.

FTN: Thank You.

Submitted by Daniel Fallenstein on 7 November 2017