Monday, March 10, 2014

Mikhail Khodorkovsky slams Russia's 'historic mistake' in Ukraine

 March 10, 2014  (Agence France-Presse) Former Russian oil tycoon and top Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky criticised Moscow's interference in Ukraine on Monday, as tensions in the former Soviet state continued to rise.  "Russia's gross interference into Ukraine's revolutionary process was a historic mistake," Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade behind Russian bars, said in front of a packed crowd at Kiev's Polytechnic Institute.
Khodorkovsky spoke a day after he held an emotional speech on Independence Square, site of deadly protests that brought down the pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych. "Russia is creating a dangerous precedent for itself," he added, warning that Moscow's moves in the former Soviet state could one day be used against the Kremlin at home. A leading foe of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Khodorkovsky predicted that solving the crisis in Crimea would take "decades". Tensions in Ukraine - which began with three months of protests against the pro-Moscow regime, resulting in Yanukovych's ouster and a death toll of 100 - took a new turn with Russia effectively taking control of the strategic Black Sea peninisula of Crimea.  Crimea's pro-Russian local authorities - who are not recognised by the new government in Kiev - have now called for a referendum on March 16 on joining Russia.
On Sunday, Khodorkovsky made an impassioned speech on Independence Square, insisting that the killings there occurred "with the agreement of the Russian leadership". Khodorkovsky, 50, was once Russia's richest man and an influential tycoon with political ambitions, but was jailed in 2003 on fraud and embezzlement charges in a move Kremlin critics said was an effort by Putin to silence him.