Mikhail Khodorkovsky graduated from the Mendeleev Institute in Moscow in 1986, with a degree in chemical engineering. At university he’d been deputy head of the Komsomol, in charge of making sure other students came to Party meetings and of excluding them if they had a bad attitude. Kicking someone out of the Komsomol also meant kicking them out of the university; Khodorkovsky had done that too. He was the only child of two Soviet factory workers, one of whom (his father) was Jewish. ‘I realise now that my parents hated the Soviet government,’ he has said, ‘but they shielded me from this, thinking that to do otherwise would be to ruin my life.’ They were right. Their son’s path to success in the Soviet Union was through conformity; they raised him well, and he conformed.
Keith Gessen in the LRB, the rest here.