Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former oil tycoon pardoned by Russian president Vladimir Putin, perhaps with the Sochi Games in mind, was released from jail having served 10 years for ‘tax evasion and fraud’, and interviewed in Berlin by Christiane Amanpour for CNN.
Half a century later and she still looks like Jackie K. Same length hair (no flick-ups, they’re too Mad Men nowadays). Lips thickly drawn, firmly penciled eyebrows and heavily painted nails – especially nails because there are plenty of florid hand movements. And she isn’t wearing an Alice band but she could because it would go well with her tailoring (royal blue).
After JFK was shot dead, the New York Times reporter wrote that Mrs Kennedy’s ‘stockings were saturated with her husband’s blood.’ Now Amanpour wants Khodorkovsky to spill.
What was it like in that jail? And weren’t you attacked, stabbed? You missed seeing your family grow up…..
As she is animated, Khodorkovsky is subdued. So much for the coarsening effect of prison: he is fine; he has finesse. Frameless glasses and close-cropped hair combining Prison House and Designer. His words are finely chosen; his lips more finely drawn than hers.
Fifty to a hundred inmates in a barrack-like room: he merely says there is nothing good to say.
Food? Comes the answer: ‘bread’. The translator gives us to understand this was his one and only word on the subject.
The stabbing? He went for my eye but the blow glanced onto my nose; and the prison dentist was also a plastic surgeon, so now there’s not even a trace of it.
No trace of Khodorkovsky playing the scene for personal gain. But perhaps this is his play – the persuasive power of underwhelming. Except he is surely not acting when Amanpour asks about his family, and his performance is just the same.
In reply Khodorkovsky says something that doesn’t translate too well about debt that can’t be repaid. Whatever it was, he’s said his piece. He looks away, then back at her; away, then back again. Grief (for the lost decade) and a smile (because I don’t dislike you but no, I’m not going to) playing around his mouth. She sees wealth-of-emotion writ large on his face and prompts him to say more. ‘It’s very emotional,’ she insists. But he won’t be goaded.
The interview is over; they shake hands and the screen goes dark.