AL JAZEERA (Qatar)
KABUL/KRASNOKAMENSK - When asked if he thought Vladimir Putin might change now that he's returned to the Kremlin, jailed former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky replies: "No." But he also offers a caveat.
Commenting just two weeks after Putin was sworn in for a third presidential term (after an interim as Prime Minister), the jailed former oil magnate predicts that "tensions will increase with each year." The comments were made in a written reply that Khodorkovsky sent to Al Jazeeras Afghanistan Correspondent Sue Turton.
Khodorkovsky, 48, who lost yet another appeal of his case last week, takes a look back at the state of Russia since Putin first came into office in 1999: "True development of state institutions was replaced by the creation of simulacra, a dependable court and parliament, regulated by the executive powers replaced by rigged elections, directly appointed regional authorities and a limitation of the freedom of mass media."
Still, Khodorkovsky, who has been locked up for nine years in the Siberian labor camp of Krasnokamensk on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion, thinks the return to the Kremlin of his nemesis takes place in a very different context this time around: "Inside the country there is now a demand for change: for modern state institutions and for political competition. The ability of the authorities to respond to this demand is doubtful, if it sticks with this archaic regime."
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