Protest is never easy. Witnessing the violent Trayvon Martin protests in Oakland on Monday or the City College strikes last week proves that citizens' voices aren't always enough to prompt change, not even in the land of free speech.
To which we say: at least you're not trying to change Russia.
At 6 p.m. tonight, Pavel Khordokovsky, the son of a noted Russian political activist, will appear at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club to discuss the plight of his father and address the larger issue of political oppression in his native country.
Before his arrest in 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia and a loud critic of Vladimir Putin. He's remained active behind bars; in fact, wrote activist Martha Gessen in 2012, Khodorkovsky's 10 years in jail have turned him into "Vladimir Putin's biggest political liability."
This morning, Khodorkovsky's fellow political activist Alexei Navalny was convicted on charges of embezzlement. (Navalny is the most effective anti-corruption campaigner in Russia today; international critics claim that this is his true crime in the eyes of the Putin administration.) Russian news editor Yevgenia Albats said, "This shows to what extent the government is afraid of Alexei Navalny."
Khodorkovsky seconded this opinion in a statement released today, calling Navalny's guilty verdict "inevitable and predictable." He writes: "Until we finally understand that to knock on every door already, until we realize that the trials of Navalny, Bolotnaya, and hundreds of thousands of other guiltlessly convicted people are our trials, they are just going to keep on locking us up, one at a time."
Pavel is expected to provide context for his father's statement, and to field questions about the nature of Navalny's arrests in Russia's climate of political repression at tonight's discussion.
For more details, visit http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events