• Khodorkovsky has spent two days in Ukraine, making speeches and visiting hospitals (Photo: khodorkovsky.com)

Khodorkovsky: Putin fears Ukraine 'revolution'

11.03.14 @ 09:26

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - Russian oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said the Kremlin fears the Ukrainian revolution, but warned Ukraine not to expect too much help from the West.

The 50-year-old businessman, who currently lives in Zurich after being released from prison by Russian President Vladimir Putin last December, spoke at a meeting in The Kiev State Polytechnic Museum on Monday (10 March).

He told the students that Russia is describing the overthrow of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych as a “coup” because to call it a “revolution” would have dangerous implications for the Russian elite.

“Coups primarily take place in situations where there is a constitutional regime. But Ukraine under the Yanukovych regime, as indeed, modern Russia, can hardly be called a legal state, despite the existence of a written constitutional charter. A legal state only exists where there is real separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a handover of power in fair elections, law enforcement. It is quite obvious that nothing like this existed either in Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovych or exists in Russia under Vladimir Putin,” he said.

He noted: “The second revolution in Ukraine [after the Orange revolution in 2004] is a universal event. Its significance goes far beyond Ukraine itself, what is happening now in Ukraine may lead to a reformatting of European politics … This makes Russian government nervous, because the same scenario may be played in Russia.”

“Ukraine could become a new beacon and source of values​​, values ​​for a new Russia, which has not yet been created.”

He warned the audience they should not expect the West to intervene decisively in Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia.

“You can do it [solve the Crimean crisis] yourself. And who told you that could be an easy path?” he said.

He also warned them that one of the biggest threats to the success of the Maidan, the protest movement, is an ethnic conflict between Ukrainian- and Russian-speakers in the country.

Khodorkovsky added that Crimea, which is under occupation by Russian soldiers and pro-Russian paramilitaries ahead of a referendum on joining Russia on 16 March, is considered “a kind of Holy Land” by many Russians.

He suggested it should be granted autonomy, on the model of Scotland and the UK, or on the model of the Belgian or Swiss federations.

His speech met with noisy applause, the Ukrainian newspaper, the Kiyvpost reports. His remarks on Sunday at the Maidan itself, the main protest camp in Kiev city centre, met with a similar reaction.

He said on Sunday he blames the Russian government for the violence in Ukraine which saw more than 100 people killed and thousands injured: “I was told and shown what the authorities did here. They did it with the consent of the Russian authorities … I felt like crying. It was horrifying. It is not my government.”

He noted: “I want you to know that there is an entirely different Russia … I believe that Russia and Ukraine have a common path of European development.”