Vasily Alexanyan (Aleksanyan, Alexanian) is dying. This is a fact. He is dying because he has refused the offers for medical treatment from the prosecutors in exchange for false testimony against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Yukos. I cannot overstate the importance of this tragedy, which explains more about the injustice, lack of rule of law, and ruthless persecution of these political prisoners than any argument I can put forth.
What other government uses medical blackmail to create legal cover for their crimes? Khodorkovsky initiated a hunger strike in support of his friend and colleague, which helped raise international attention. A letter has been delivered to Vladimir Putin from 23 members of the European Parliament asking that care be provided. Both Russia’s human rights ombudsman and representatives from the Orthodox Church have gently asked the same.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have spoken out. The chorus continues to grow. Yesterday’s unprecedented interview with Khodorkovsky has generated significant media coverage, so now even more eyes are focused on the actions of the procuracy. One can only hope that the current broad disapproval over this travesty will not disappear once the next stage comes to pass – for Moscow will use this experience as a litmus test of international reaction. A measurement of exactly how far away from the law they will be permitted to go without consequence.