Russia: An Electrician's View on Vasily Alexanyan's Case

Global Voices Online
Saturday, February 9, 2008

According to Robert Amsterdam, legal defense counsel for jailed ex-head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, there have been some "contradictory reports that fatally ill prisoner Vasily Alexanyan has been 'spirited off' to a new facility to finally receive the medical care he was being denied for so long." Here are some details:

[...] According to a recent press release from his lawyers, they still have not been able to confirm that Alexanyan is receiving treatment. In fact, neither his lawyers or family have any idea where he even is after being sent away to a "secret location." Refusal to inform the lawyers about a prisoner's whereabouts and medical treatment is a violation of Russian law - the latest of many illegal actions by the prosecutors. [...]

In another post, Amsterdam reports that "the chorus" in support of Alexanyan "continues to grow":

[...] Khodorkovsky initiated a hunger strike in support of his friend and colleague, which helped raise international attention. A letter has been delivered to Vladimir Putin from 23 members of the European Parliament asking that care be provided. Both Russia's human rights ombudsman and representatives from the Orthodox Church have gently asked the same. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have spoken out. [...]

While the previous Global Voices translation on Alexanyan's case dealt with the relative silence that surrounded Alexanyan internationally and a rather massive response from the Russian bloggers, below is a story of one Russian electrician who was not aware of Alexanyan's existence at all. Written by LJ user becky-sharpe, a journalist, this sketch (RUS) may (or may not) reflect on how Khodorkovsky's and Alexanyan's ordeals are viewed by those in Russia who do not rely on the online media as their primary sources of information.

An electrician came in the morning. I've known him for a long time, he's a reliable person, my housemaid's husband - she's taking care of her old [mother] somewhere far away and is unable to work for me temporarily. He husband is still in Moscow, though. So he came to install new sockets and brought a substitute cleaning lady.

Misha is a very-very simple Russian man. Very soft, warm, kind-hearted and diligent. Well, yes, I do try to keep this kind of people working around the house. I asked him about Alexanyan. He didn't know anything at all.

- Mish, do you read newspapers?

- No, not really...

- Why?

- Well, - he hesitates with an answer. - I don't find them interesting. I read only you. (He's being polite here.)


- And do you watch TV?

- [Talk shows] sometimes, with my wife... Well, the news... But we watch DVDs more, of course. We like old movies.

- Mish, and what do you think about Khodorkovsky?

- He's a smart guy, of course. Why is he the only one serving time? Why aren't they jailing [Roman Abramovich] as well? It should be either all of them, or none.

My [87-year-old] grandmother, by the way, [...] thinks this way, too:

"I'll tell you this: he is, of course, a big scoundrel, this Khodorkovsky. But why he alone [is in jail]? I think Putin is wrong."

Here's how a huge number of common folks express their weak protest: why he alone?

Yes, and to answer the question of "why everyone stood up for Shcherbinsky [convicted for causing the car accident that killed Mikhail Yevdokimov, governor of Altai region; sentenced to four years, but, following drivers' protests all over Russia, his conviction was later overturned] - while no one did for Alexanyan: because no one has ever heard a thing about Alexanyan. TV channels were following Shcherbinsky's case. And Alexanyan's case is being hushed down. Here you go.

Misha the electrician has a good, kind heart. He is religios. And if someone's in danger, Misha feels for the poor guy right away. I got him to read the texts on Alexanyan. "I just can't believe it," says Misha after he's done reading. "What an outrage... And they don't even fear God..."

- Misha, if you had been aware, would you have gone to the rally?

- Well, if other people went, I'd go, too. But not for the politics of it. I don't trust any of them. I'd go to support an ill man - this is what God orders you to do, you have to go.

God, according to my dilettantish knowledge, orders you to turn your other cheek for various [bastards]. And if they infected you with TB, it is advisable to let them also infect you with dysentery. But Misha's God is the God of decent people - and Misha believes that it can't be written in the Book any other way: If someone is ill, you must go.

No comments: