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Khodorkovsky Case Politically Motivated

Mikhail Khodorkovsky & Platon LebedevThe 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.




German filmmaker Cyril Tuschi’s documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former owner of Yukos Oil Company, received much attention and praise at its debut during this year’s Berlin Film Festival after it was stolen twice in the final months of its production.

The film became one of the most talked about at the festival and prompted rumours about who was involved in the thefts. The film tells Khodorkovsky’s story from a socialist believer to a perfect capitalist and subsequently the best known Russian prisoner.


Khodorkovsky: Western Realpolitik Big Mistake


The West has paid too little attention to the human rights situation in Russia, the former head of the now defunct YUKOS oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said. Speaking in a written interview with four Western newspapers — The Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, Il Mondo, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, — Mr Khodorkovsky blamed the West for passivity in monitoring the respect of human rights in Russia. Such a position will cost dearly to both Russia and Europe, he warned.


Khodorkovsky: “Russia is a sick state”


Nearly every day for the past 20 months, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, has been led handcuffed into a small courtroom here to defend himself against charges that could keep him in jail through 2017.

“Much more than two people’s fates lie in your hands,” Khodorkovsky told the judge, referring to himself and his former business partner Platon Lebedev. “Right here and right now, the fate of every citizen of our country is being decided.”

“I am ashamed for my country,” Khodorkovsky told the court, in a rousing 20-minute speech that ended with his supporters — and many Russian journalists — in the room erupting into applause.

“A state that destroys its best companies, which are ready to become global champions — a country that holds its own citizens in contempt, trusting only the bureaucracy and the security services — this is a sick state,” he said.

He decried President Dmitry Medvedev’s rhetoric on modernizing the economy. “Who is going to modernize the economy? Prosecutors? Policemen? Spies?” he asked. “We already tried such a modernization. It did not work,” he said, referring to the Soviet era.

“This is not about me and Platon,” Khodorkovsky said. “It is about hope for the citizens of Russia — hope that tomorrow courts will protect their rights. It is hard for me to live in prison — I do not want to die here,” he said. “But my beliefs are worth dying for.”


Change Will Come To Russia


Vladimir Putin and his colleagues decided that they had no need for independent opposition; they had no need for independent television and no need for real discussions of draft laws in parliament. I could not agree with this, and tried as best I could to resist. What happened next is well known: In 2003, I was arrested on contrived charges of fraud, Yukos was dismembered and annihilated, and its pieces became desirable prizes for the vanquisher’s friends. I was convicted and sentenced to prison. Now, I am in my seventh year in jail.

Russia’s current power elite came of age at a time when change was dangerous. They believe that the oil and gas bonanza will go on forever and that no real reforms need to be enacted, just some make-believe for the TV cameras. They accept corruption, embrace archaic ideas and are united in their desire to keep talented, creative people off the public stage. A modern, innovation-driven economic model is the antithesis of their hierarchical approach. It is precisely these kinds of mistakes that led to the death of the Soviet Union.

There is, however, a new generation of Russian politicians waiting in the wings, people who are ready to accept the world as it really is: rapidly globalizing and dynamic. These people are ready for real political competition; they believe in an open societal discussion of ideas, strive to win the support of fellow citizens who actually have thought through their positions on the issues and drawn conclusions about the proper course. Members of this new political establishment  are ready to run a modern, complex mechanism of state.

Russia is approaching the same point that the USSR found itself in the second half of the 1980s. There arose a crisis of the communist ideology as the planned economy of “real socialism” revealed its strategic inefficiency. For Russia, the second decade of the 21st century will become a period of crisis for a system built on corruption and hands-on control. Today’s Russian theoreticians and practitioners of “vertically corrupt management” have no intention of going anywhere. But they will have to. I know. I have seen it before.


Khodorkovsky throws down gauntlet to Putin


Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of Russia's biggest oil company, YUKOS, has thrown down the gauntlet to Vladimir Putin, the man many believe personally ordered his arrest. The oligarch who was once Russia's richest man, has challenged the Russian Prime Minister to answer in court a series of questions.

Mr Khodorkovsky claims that the prosecution's case is full of flaws, and challenges Mr Putin to explain his actions relating to Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft, which acquired major YUKOS assets at state-run auctions. Rosneft's chairman is Igor Sechin, a Kremlin insider and a close associate of Mr Putin.

Meanwhile, YUKOS has won injunctions complicating payments by foreign customers to Rosneft, jeopardising delivery of up to a fifth of Russia's oil exports, Reuters reported. "Under a worst case scenario, there could be chaos with payments and a complete deadlock of Rosneft's exports," a trader with a global major said.

Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says the Russian ruling system, and Mr Putin, work by "Stalinist, bandit logic", whereby releasing Mr Khodorkovsky would be seen as a sign of weakness, not of compassion. The regime may also be worried that Mr Khodorkovsky could become a figurehead for opposition forces.


Inside the Khodorkovsky trial


Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of Yukos Oil Company, and his partner, Platon Lebedev, sit in a glass cage as their embezzlement trial slowly proceeds. As Khodorkovsky and Lebedev descended the stairs, the crowd erupted into shouts of “Happy New Year!”

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are ten months into a trial for charges of money laundering and embezzlement. They are already serving eight-year sentences for fraud and tax evasion, of which they were convicted in 2005. The new charges carry sentences of up to 22 years in prison.

Few in Russia believe the proceedings to be meaningful, and the defense team has called the charges politically motivated. President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to build an independent court system, but there is no evidence of that happening so far.