Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Russia: Back to the Future
On April 13, 2015, Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) welcomed former Russian businessman and political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky as he presented his talk, Russia: Back to the Future. Mr. Khodorkovsky addressed a large crowd of Stanford affiliates and Russian and Ukrainian community members on the economic development of Russia, providing insights on the prospect of a true democracy in his home country.
The event was kicked off by Larry Diamond, director of CDDRL, and moderated by Freeman Spogli Institute Director Michael McFaul. McFaul served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012-2014.
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Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a former Russian businessman and political prisoner of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Prior to his arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky was the head of Yukos, one of Russia’s largest oil producers, and an increasingly outspoken critic of corruption in Russian life. He began funding opposition parties and established Open Russia, a non-governmental organization promoting a strong civil society. Khodorkovsky was one of the pioneers of Internet in Russia. His company Yukos incubated numerous successful Internet entrepreneurs and investors. He financed educating Russian teachers on new technologies, computerization of schools and broadband Internet connection for schools and libraries in Russian regions. Khodorkovsky was arrested and charged with fraud and tax evasion, and sentenced to nine years in prison, which was prolonged to eleven years after the second trial. Khodorkovsky, declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was released in December 2013. Following his release he declared that he will support political prisoners and civil society in Russia. In September 2014 Khodorkovsky re-launched Open Russia as a movement aiming to unite pro-Western Russian citizens.