"Тimeo Danaos et dona ferentes": Must Read List by Arrested Minister Ulyukaev

Literature review, which became part of the trial of former minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev

Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow continues to consider the case of former minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev. He is accused of extorting a $ 2 million bribe from the head of state corporation Rosneft, Igor Sechin. This is the first case of the detention of the federal minister in modern Russia.

Ulyukaev is under house arrest in his apartment on the Minskaya Street in Moscow. He said that during the house arrest he read about 50 books and was writing “his book about a good life.” Authors of Russiangate made a list of the literature the former head of the Ministry of Economic Development got time to read.


On his first visit to Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow on August 16, Alexei Ulyukayev came with an e-book. He told reporters that he was rereading Chekhov and at that moment was on the story called The Murder.

“I read Chekhov and recommend you to do the same. Chekhov is a great Russian writer,” Ulyukaev said. The former official complained that he had not read much recently. After completing the story, he rereads the stories from 1882, then, goes to essays.


After Anton Chekhov, Alexei Ulyukaev switched to foreign classics. Before the September 7 hearing, the ex-minister said he was reading the works of French writer and philosopher Albert Camus.

The Stranger is Camus' debut novel. It is devoted to the ideas of existentialism. The protagonist of the novel refuses to lie and live according to imposed rules, which made him an outsider in society. The main postulate of the story is the concept of absolute freedom.


When journalists asked the ex-minister to comment on Igor Sechin's statement on the criminal case that he made during the Eastern Economic Forum, Alexei Ulyukaev responded with a converted phrase from Virgil’s poem The Aeneid: “Whatever it is, I fear the Danaans, even when bringing gifts. Fear the Danaans, who bring sausages.” In the transcripts of the conversations between Ulyukaev and Sechin, Rosneft's chief executive suggested that the former minister took a basket of sausages.

Alexei Ulyukaev told reporters that in his relationship with head of Rosneft Igor Sechin he sees an analogy with the seizure of the ancient Troy of Priam by the Greeks led by Agamemnon. According to the poem, the ancient Greek troops, also called Danaans, after nine years of the siege of Troy declared their retreat and as a token of defeat presented the city a wooden horse as a gift. Inside the horse, a detachment of Greeks led by the king of Ithaca Odysseus hid. Thus Odysseus' detachment killed the guards and opened the gates to the conquerors.


At the court hearing on September 11, Alexei Ulyukaev accused of taking bribes advised head of Rosneft Igor Sechin to defer to the advice of the heroes of Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector. “Don't lay the blame at someone else's door,” said Ulyukaev answering the journalists' question about Sechin's reaction to the prosecutor’s announcement of the materials of the case in court.


On September 18, Alexei Ulyukaev came to the court with the e-book again. He was not allowed to communicate with journalists. When they asked him about his mood he showed his thumb and smiled. The defense asked to stop asking questions, because this could affect the measure of restraint. Ulyukaev handed his lawyer the tablet. She said: “Reading Leo Tolstoy “, without specifying the work. Later, the former official said that among the books he had read there was Tolstoy's novel Resurrection.

The idea for the plot was suggested to Tolstoy by the well-known lawyer Anatoly Koni. The central storyline is a court hearing with the jury on the case of stealing money and poisoning. Prince Dmitri Nekhlyudov among jurors strikes injustice in court and disgusts all people.


To the hearing of Zamoskoretsky Court on October 5, Ulyukaev came with Plato's work The Apology of Socrates. It contains a speech delivered by Socrates in 399 B.C. in the Athenian court in his defense against the charges brought to him. A speech begins with the words: “How you, men of Athens, have been affected by my accusers, I do not know. For my part, even I nearly forgot myself because of them, so persuasively did they speak. And yet they have said, so to speak, nothing true”.


“Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.” This is how Franz Kafka's novel The Trial begins, about which Alexey Ulyukaev told before the hearing on October 12. The book tells about the criminal prosecution of a bank employee named Josef K., the reasons of which are not explained.

On November 13, answering the traditional question about literature, the former minister of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade replied that he had not yet finished Kafka. “The Trial is a loose concept,” joked his lawyer Victoria Burkovskaya.


Before the hearing on November 22, answering the traditional question, Alexei Ulyukaev said that he started reading Italian literature and at that moment enjoyed Umberto Eco – every work starting with Foucault’s Pendulum.

In the novel Eco says that the humanity does not tolerate the notion that our world emerged by chance, by mistake, because four atoms collided on wet asphalt. And if there is no place for a chance, there will be found a cosmic conspiracy, and God, and angels, and devils. This idea can be perceived as criticizing or reinterpreting conspiracy theories.


To the last hearing Alexei Ulyukaev came in a jacket and immediately told the reporters: the best book is Robinson Crusoe.

The novel by English writer Daniel Defoe was published in 1719. He talks about the sea traveller and planter Robinson Crusoe, who wanted to get richer quickly and illegally. Because of the shipwreck, he finds himself on an uninhabited island and spends 28 years there.

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