I am beginning to believe that the world is finally starting to pay attention to the horribly cruel treatment of Yukos political prisoners in Russia, but it wasn’t until the prosecutors have nearly murdered a man that we all wake up. Back on Dec. 27, we posted on this blog the first translation of the statement from Vasily Alexanyan (many media outlets are spelling it “Alexanian”), which shared a harrowing tale from this former general counsel of Yukos, who has been unlawfully imprisoned on pre-trial detention (without conviction) for two years and denied urgent, life-saving medical care. The Russian prosecutors in this case have ignored three separate orders from the European Court of Human Rights to provide this care, as a way to blackmail him into giving false testimony to help their case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other Yukos prisoners, he alleges. Apparently frustrated by Alexanyan’s audacity to publicly appeal for someone to help save his life, the prosecutors came forward to hold a press conference denying these allegations, and trying to claim that they offered this medical care, but the prisoner refused. To add insult to injury, the Russian Prosecutor Vladimir Khomutovsky also told the state news agency that Alexanyan had been diagnosed with AIDS. Alexanyan’s lawyer, Yelena Lvova, was outraged at this illegal disclosure, and threatened to sue. She said “The prosecutor did it intentionally in order to taint Alexanyan. … [He is] a decent and honest man from a decent and honest family. … He never belonged to any risk group and might have been infected in the course of multiple surgeries. He never led an immoral lifestyle. And the fact that he got infected with HIV is a horrible conversion of circumstances.” The good news is that today Amnesty International has come forward to call upon Russia to provide urgent medical care to Vasily Alexanyan. See the full news after the jump.
Amnesty urges Russia to treat sick prisonerMOSCOW (Reuters) – Rights group Amnesty International on Friday urged Russia to provide proper treatment for a jailed oil executive who has AIDS and says he could die if he is not moved to a specialised hospital.Russia has snubbed three requests from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to move 36-year-old Vasily Alexanian out of his Moscow jail. He says he is nearly blind, has suspected tuberculosis and is being denied medication.Russian rights campaigners have called Alexanian a political prisoner because he is a former vice-president of the Yukos oil company, whose bosses were jailed after they fell out with the Kremlin.In a statement, Amnesty said Alexanian “is seriously ill with AIDS because he is being denied adequate medical treatment in detention”.”Amnesty International is urging the Russian authorities to transfer … Alexanian to a specialised hospital for HIV/AIDS patients where his illness can be treated adequately.”It also called on Russia to comply with the European Court’s requests and to delay Alexanian’s trial, on charges of fraud and tax evasion, until he is healthy enough to defend himself.Alexanian has accused investigators of deliberately withholding life-saving treatment to blackmail him into testifying against other Yukos executives.Alexanian has a brother who works as a translator in the Reuters Moscow office.Investigators on his case have denied mistreating Vasily Alexanian. They say he was offered adequate medical care in the prison sanatorium but refused to accept it. They accuse him of trying to delay the start of his trial.Yukos’s main shareholder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is half-way through an eight-year sentence in Siberia for fraud and tax evasion. The Kremlin says the jailed Yukos managers are criminals, and denies a political witch-hunt against them.