In this 25-minute radio interview with ABC Australia’s Monica Attard, Robert Amsterdam discusses the Khodorkovsky case, Russia’s energy relations, and the business climate.
MONICA ATTARD: Now Khodorkovsky is going to face another raft of charges quite soon, is he not? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Yes. MONICA ATTARD: And what will they relate to? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Well it’s what I call trial by headline. They will call it money laundering. I’ve reviewed the charges and I can certify to you that no-one on Earth could understand these charges. They are, they make absolutely no sense. The dollars utilised have no relation to reality and these are simply bogus charges in an attempt to try the man by headline and keep him in horrific conditions in jail long enough so that he could have an accident and die. MONICA ATTARD: He was originally sentenced to 10-years. How much longer does he have to run on that 10-year sentence? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Originally to nine, then reduced to eight, and he would actually be out on parole, given normal practice, this October. MONICA ATTARD: But you highly doubt that he will be? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Oh, absolutely. I doubt it completely. MONICA ATTARD: Is the intention, do you think, that they just simply keep him in jail? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Well they’ve stolen his company. Many of the people involved in, you know, at the highest levels in the Kremlin, have actually stolen it. I want to make sure people don’t use the term “nationalisation”. I use the term “theft”. They’ve pocketed literally billions of dollars. These people are criminals and they’re incredibly incompetent. So they’re not even good crooks, as you can see in the… MONICA ATTARD: But it has to be said, this was a private company, was it not? This was a company held by Khodorkovsky and his own personal family interests. ROBERT AMSTERDAM: That’s right and they trumped up. Well, no, it was… there were other shareholders. Khodorkovsky was a shareholder of a public company. There were others. Then they trumped up these tax charges on Yukos itself so that they could steal the company. MONICA ATTARD: Do you think that you can ever run a case where you can attempt to get Yukos back? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: I think we will ultimately obtain compensation for Yukos. There is a case… MONICA ATTARD: From the Kremlin? ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Ah, well, yes. There is a case under the Energy Charter for $50-billion that is pending in arbitration. Look, we just got a decision from the Swiss Federal Court. For the first time in Swiss history, the Swiss Federal Court has stated that it will not allow the Swiss prosecutors to cooperate with the Russian prosecutors because of the political nature of the case against Khodorkovsky, and because they felt the case was discriminatory. It was an incredible slap at the face of the very legitimacy of the Russian process. I would have never thought imaginable we would get that decision from the Swiss. After getting that, I think ultimately suggesting that compensation will be granted to the individuals from whom the Kremlin has stolen all this money, isn’t that big a leap. MONICA ATTARD: Now, you were expelled from Russia in 2005. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened there? Police burst into your hotel room. ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Well firstly, let me say, and it’s more important than my own arrest, that two Russian lawyers that I know are still in jail. One of them, Svetlana Bakhmina, her apartment was broken into at five in the morning – 32-year-old woman taken in front of her two young children, interrogated ’til she collapsed, ah, then charged with completely fraudulent charges, driven to the point of near insanity and not allowed to see or speak to her children, and then sentenced to seven years so that her minor children and her could not be reunited. Had it been six years they could have been. And she’s now in a labour camp in the Ural Mountains, a hostage for her boss, who the procuracy wants to have brought back to Russia. Another individual lawyer, Alexanian, is again in jail, I think starting his second or third year. So, when I was arrested, Bakhmina was already in jail. So I had no idea as to where this was going to lead but I was very fortunate in that having a passport of a foreign country, um, I was able to, you know, be deported as opposed to thrown in jail. But, frankly, when they come for you at one in the morning, you’re never quite sure where you’re going.
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