Saturday, October 29, 2005

Khodorkovsky and the Jews

Whilst the media has generally referred to Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a 'Jewish' tycoon/oligarch, the Jewish media (including Bloghd) has followed his story with unusual interest, and his treatment by Putin has often been linked to anti-Semitism, it's not quite that simple. Some accounts have him with just a Jewish father; according to JTA, "Before his arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky had mentioned privately to Jewish leaders on several occasions that he did not consider himself Jewish," and he has certainly not really been involved with the Jewish community.
Now, an interview in today's London Times with a Russian Orthodox priest who visits prisoners in the Siberian jail where Khodorkovsky has been for the past two weeks, and who met with Khodorkovsky this week, concludes:
Father Sergei... said that Khodorkovsky was also now a believer, although he had never been baptised. “The last two years have taught him patience and humility,” he said. “God has set him a difficult test, but I am sure he is strong enough to pass it.”
Now, in addition to the fact that Father Sergei has known Khodorkovsky for all of 20 minutes, he obviously might have his own reasons for claiming this. But the piece also notes that
Inna, [Kohdorkovsky's] wife, made a point of visiting a church built by the Decembrists in Chita, the regional capital, as she made her way to see her husband this week.
Whilst none of this changes an iota about the facts of his case, what it shows about Putin etc. etc. etc., perhaps it's time for the Jewish community to disengage emotionally, a little, from Mr Khodorkovsky, so that we don't all get a massive shock when he emerges from jail with a big cross around his neck....

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