Interfax: MHG head sees Khodorkovsky as spiritual leader, compares him with Gandhi, Sakharov and Havel

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

Moscow, December 20, Interfax – Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, will become a spiritual leader for Russia’s civil society, the country’s veteran human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva told Interfax on Friday.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo“I am convinced that Mikhail Borisovich [Khodorkovsky] is well-equipped to play the role of a spiritual leader who will provide moral guidance. No matter what Mikhail Borisovich decides to do, he will become an unconditional spiritual leader, whom our society needs to urgently. Gandhi, Sakharov and Havel were such leaders,” Alexeyeva, who also heads the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), said.

“I will tell you a terrible thing: if Mikhail Borisovich had not encountered such severe hardship in his life, he would not be able to become a spiritual leader. This is the way life is meant to be,” she said.

Khodorkovsky himself said that, after his release from prison he would not pursue a political career or return to business, but he would help tackle public and civil issues, Alexeyeva said.

“He will become one of us. I am sure that we will cooperate. I am ready to do everything I can to help him,” she said.

The Russian president signed a decree on Friday pardoning Khodorkovsky.