The European Court of Human Rights has retracted its press release on the ruling in the case brought by the two former owners of the Yukos Oil Company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, against the Russian state, NEWSru.com reported. Apparently, the initial press release stated that the charges against the two had “strong grounds,” whereas the Court ruling said nothing of the sort.
Mr Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, said the Court was ready to concede that some political forces and state officials had reason to prosecute Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev through Russian courts, and that the authorities might have had a “hidden agenda.” Ms Moskalenko said the Court did confirm that there was reason to suspect that the Khodorkovsky case was indeed politically motivated.
Ms Moskalenko explained, however, that the Court found that the defence had failed to present “irrefutable and direct evidence” of political persecution. The Court had set the threshold of proof on violations under Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights very high indeed, Ms Moskalenko pointed out. Mr Khodorkovsky’s former lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, tweeted: “The ECHR’s threshold to prove political motivation is so high that even Nikolai Bukharin’s case would fall short.”
Mr Khodorkovsky’s and Mr Lebedev’s Press Centre called on media to review their reports on the Court ruling. Also, Ms Moskalenko noted that the Court ruling did not overturn the decisions of other international courts that had confirmed that the case was politically motivated. The Press Centre has published a Q&A on the Court ruling. Amnesty International has recognised both Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev to be prisoners of conscience.