This story is about the guards.
March 2, 2015 8:04 AM   Subscribe

My Fellow Prisoners by Mikhail Khodorkovsky [New York Review of Books]
I’m writing these notes because I want people who care about these things to know what I have personally experienced in prison. Over time I’ve turned from an ordinary victim into an interested observer, and I’ve discovered that for many people the prison world remains terra incognita. And yet in our country one in every hundred people is currently in prison; one in ten (maybe by now one in seven) of the male population passes through prison at some point in their lives. Moreover, prison has a terrible effect on the majority of both prisoners and guards. It’s not yet clear, in fact, which group is affected more. Society has to do something about this human tragedy. And for a start people need to know about it.
posted by Fizz (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed this.

Is there a book coming, or something? This felt very short.
posted by grobstein at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2015

Oh, I see:
His contribution in this issue is drawn from his book My Fellow Prisoners, to be published on February 24 by the Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc.
posted by grobstein at 8:15 AM on March 2, 2015

Thanks for this, I look forward to reading the book. (For certain values of "look forward.")
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on March 2, 2015

There's an excellent recent profile of Khodorkovsky in the New Yorker. It leaves you with pretty conflicting feelings about the guy.
posted by yoink at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a co-worker who used to be a prison guard. he said he didn't realize when he took the job that every day he had to get up and go to prison, that when he was there he was in prison, too.
One of his best friends now was a prisoner while he was a guard.
posted by Floydd at 9:28 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's an excellent recent profile of Khodorkovsky in the New Yorker. It leaves you with pretty conflicting feelings about the guy.

Yeah, on the one hand he's not exactly an "ordinary victim" as he states in the NYRB excerpt. "Extraordinary victim" may well be the more accurate term. He was playing by the same rules as the other oligarchs - enriching himself by pillaging state assets.

It was when he stopped playing by the, uh, "rules" that he ended up in trouble. The documentary Vlast (Power) is a good watch on the subject.

Shady dealings, so long as they were carried out in a way that didn't challenge Putin's political supremacy, would be tolerated:

Khodorkovsky's financial shenanigans were hardly exceptional. The authorities could have brought similar charges of underpayment, tax evasion, bribery, murder, or attempted murder against many of the oligarchs. It was the audacity that Khodorkovsky and his Yukos subordinates displayed in interfering directly in politics that made them a special target. Like Gusinsky (who was jailed for a time) and Berezovsky (who was exiled) before him, Khodorkovsky provoked Putin by criticizing him and supporting opposition parties and candidates.

Be that as it may, it doesn't take away from the point Khodorkovsky's making:

“Sergei Sergeyevich,” I ask him, “if you and your colleagues were to change places with the prisoners currently in here, no one would notice much of a difference, would they?”

“They wouldn’t,” he agrees, and seems not the least bit aggrieved by this state of affairs. He’s the same as everybody else.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older It's Not Crazy, It's Sports   |   The Color of Pomegranates, rescored by Nicolas... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments