Sunday, November 02, 2003
Khodorkovski - gotta say this (no tech content)
Now that I'm back in the US and thinking slightly longer-term, I can't ignore the topic of Khodorkovski. (note to tech readers; this is about Russian politics, not the Internet....but remember when we thought politics in the US didn't matter to us either??) It gives me the feeling of familiar despair: "Uncle is drinking again!" We thought maybe he was cured, but he's not.
THe Russian government is showing its worst side, going after one man (Khodorkovski) and his company for the (alleged) kind of crimes that virtually every non-software Russian business has been involved in. (Software companies created things out of their heads, and did not generally "buy" assets from the state for amazing prices.) That means, long run, that most Russian businesses are vulnerable. WHen you create a situation where almost everyone is guilty (viz. our drug laws), you create disrespect for the law and a climate where everyone is vulnerable to misuse of government power masquerading as the force of law.
One American I encountered during the past week said to the Russians (paraphrase): "You have Yukos; we have Enron." but that is precisely wrong. Enron broke specific laws (that most but certainly not all other companies did not break), and was not singled out for political reasons.
The RUssian business community is upset but vulnerable; the US business community and government should be taking a stand in favor of the things we believe in: transparency, rule of law, etc., instead of turning a blind eye.
posted by Esther 3:33 AM