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“I was a big boss, a convict, and now I’m a man among the people.” Former Minister Ulyukaev gave the first interview after his release from the colony

Former Minister of Economic Development of Russia, chief expert of the Yegor Gaidar Foundation Alexei Ulyukaev, who served about 5.5 years in a colony on a corruption case, gave his first interview after his release. Conversation published on the Commonwealth of Financial Market Professionals YouTube channel. The ex-official spoke about what was most difficult for him in prison, his condition after his release, and also read several new poems. The Eastern Herald collected the main statements of Ulyukaev.

About Jail

“The punishment, from my point of view, is not imprisonment, but an imposed society. You have to live with those you don’t want to live with, and you can’t live with those you want to live with. It’s a colossal dissonance that tears you apart. Plus, you’re in plain sight in jail. The barracks in the area is 90 m². m for 45 people. You have no personal space, everything is transparent. It’s very hard, especially in the beginning. Then you find yourself people who are in tune with the spirit,” Ulyukaev said.

According to the ex-minister, he had two outlets in the colony: the library where he worked, and the economic circle which he directed.

“There is an entry in the work book: a minister, then an auxiliary,” Ulyukaev said.

The former official said there were 1,500 people in the colony, of which around 100 were “active bookworms”. “So you have met many people who read Plutarch? I didn’t meet them anywhere, but I met them there,” he said.

Among the “positive” things that can be found in the conclusion, Ulyukaev called an excess of time.

“It’s a good thing. You suddenly have time. You are ‘gifted’ with many years of time by the court’s verdict. What would you do with this time before? Vanity. What can you do with this time? You can try to understand yourself, in the world, read, create, rise like Munchausen by the hair to a higher level,” he shared.

About life after colony

“I finally felt like a private person. I was kind of a little aloof from life, sometimes big boss, sometimes convict, and now I’m a man among people. It’s an incredible thrill, actually, to walk the streets, behaving like everyone else,” the ex-minister said.

He noted that one of the problems of people coming out of prison is that “life is different, everything is different”, a person released from the colony “is not in court, he is not necessary, he cannot adapt to the new realities”. “You can grow as a person, but you cannot enter the course of time and life,” Ulyukaev explained.

The former official added that after prison, he was totally unprepared to find himself in the world he found himself in, and still believes he still has a lot to understand and study.

“I walk, I watch, I listen, I study, I try to understand new things. Everything else. It’s not even about technology, it’s about ethics, relationships between people, what’s decent, what’s indecent, accepted, not accepted. How to behave, how to understand these people? They seem to be the same as me, but different. It’s very visible,” he said.

Ulyukaev’s poems

Who fought – has the right,

and he who sat, doubly

rights are cut off by power

and in war as in war.

They don’t take prisoners of war here.

hostages, slaves and cattle are a constant.

Do you want variables?

Look for them where spring is all year round.

Under the permafrost

here the solder, like Peter, is firm.

For that it is appreciable, but

freedom, equality, food

feel stronger here

than on the discharge of spring water.

Who fought, flew in a dream and

those who were seated, on the contrary,

term born to wind in Russia

more solder will not shed a tear.

He didn’t squint with a lie

and is not sold for fuel oil,

for gold, for baskets of food,

for a seat near the altar

yet he is poor in spirit

he is drawn in vain

vaunted sugar poison,

strike mortals on the back.

Who fought – has the right

the one who sat – has a debt.

Ulyukaev case

Aleksey Ulyukaev was arrested on November 14, 2016 at the Rosneft office in Moscow. According to the prosecutor’s office, the ex-minister extorted $2 million from Rosneft boss Igor Sechin for a positive assessment that allowed the oil company to buy out the state’s stake in Bashneft.

Ulyukaev pleaded not guilty and spoke of provocation. In 2017, the Zamoskvoretsky court in Moscow sentenced the ex-minister to eight years in a strict regime colony and a fine of more than 130 million rubles.

Ulyukaev served his sentence in penal colony No. 1 in Tver. In April 2022, the Tver court granted the former minister’s request for parole. In May, Ulyukaev was released.

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