The Mother Of Oil Tycoons: Russian Repression

MOSCOW, Oct 22 - The mother of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said authorities acted out of fear of her son’s growing clout when they sent him to a Siberian penal colony near the Chinese border to serve an eight-year sentence.
Marina Khodorkovsky is packing her bags to travel thousands of kilometres east to visit her son at the prison that his lawyers claim may be contaminated by radiation from a nearby uranium mine. And she might stay there, she told The Associated Press today, ahead of the second anniversary of her son’s arrest on Tuesday.
Khodorkovsky, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on fraud and tax evasion charges, will serve his time in the colony in the town of Krasnokamensk in the Chita region, about 4,700 km east of Moscow. As his two years in custody since his arrest on October 25, 2003 are being counted as part of his term, Khodorkovsky has six years left to serve.
Observers say Khodorkovsky’s trial and the partial renationalisation of his Yukos oil empire was the government’s retaliation for his financing of opposition parties.
My feeling is that today's authorities probably have many sins, that's why they are madly afraid of losing power and they probably saw in him some kind of future leader,'' Marina Khodorkovsky told the AP in a boarding school for orphans outside Moscow, which her son set up 11 years ago. After more than a week of keeping Khodorkovsky's family guessing about his whereabouts, prison officials informed them this week he had been sent to the colony in Krasnokamensk. Khodorkovsky said she will visit her son after his wife, Inna, travels there with his lawyers. Both women are considering settling near Khodorkovsky's colony, she said. If … they (us) allow to see him and bring him (food) only six times a year, then there is no sense to live there,’’ said Marina Khodorkovsky, a softspoken silver-haired woman, wearing a modest dark pants suit. But if our life there will somehow make things easier for him, if we can be bringing him some food, then we will take turns living there.'' Khodorkovsky's family and lawyers have expressed concern over his prison conditions, fearing that the colony is contaminated by radiation. His lawyers have said they would raise the issue in the European Court of Human Rights. What I wish for him in my thoughts is that he would preserve his health; I think that’s the most important thing,’’ Marina Khodorkovsky said of her son, her voice trembling. As for his moral strength, I think he has enough.'' Marina Khodorkovsky said her son's standoff with the authorities was a conscious choice, his attempt to fight for freedom and democracy in Russia. Many believe he could have avoided arrest by either fleeing abroad after his key partner, Platon Lebedev, was detained on similar charges or by cooperating with the authorities later. Even though Khodorkovsky's arrest was anticipated by many, Marina Khodorkovsky said it turned his family's lives upside down. What kind of life do we have? We live from one rumour to another, from one visit (to jail) to the next one,’’ she said.
Besides an older son from his first marriage, Khodorkovsky and his wife have a 14-year-old daughter, Nastya, and two six-year-old twin sons.
The boys are young, they don't understand much, but Nastya is suffering of course -- she's 14, it's really hard for her,'' Marina Khodorkovsky said of her grandchildren. With Khodorkovsky's arrest and the breakup of Yukos, his family was not only suffered financially but they also felt betrayed by some of Khodorkovsky's former friends and colleagues. His middle-ranking colleagues, they come and support us, but high-ranking (employees) disappeared from our life,’’ Marima Khodorkovsky said.
Even as she tries to be strong for her son and for her grandchildren, Marina Khodorkovsky says she has little optimism for her son’s fate as long as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his team are in power.
Prosecutors have said they are preparing more charges against Khodorkovsky, which means his sentence could be extended.
I cannot say that I hope for something good,'' Marina Khodorkovsky said with a sigh. As long as our society is asleep, no good will happen. When not 30, 50 or 200 people will be showing up at (opposition) rallies, but thousands, then things will change for the better, but until then no – they will destroy everybody one by one.’’