Bakhmina Not Out of the Dark Yet

An article by Sergei Balashov over at Russia Profile finds it suspicious that the Kremlin only paroled Svetlana Bakhmin instead of granting her pardon … meaning that perhaps there are a few more tricks left up their sleeves to continue this ravaging streak of legal nihilism against anybody remotely related to Yukos or Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  Keep in mind that this being Russia Profile, with its affiliation to state-controlled RIA Novosti, has to write these article pretending as though there is some sort of regularity to these show trial proceedings … which is really a bit absurd at this point in the game.

At the same time, it appears that Bakhmina’s premature release was not merely an act of good will toward a mother of three on the president’s behalf. The circumstances in which she was granted parole make it appear that a possible compromise was reached between Bakhmina and the authorities. “It was a result of a complex political compromise, and it’s important that she was paroled and not pardoned. Bakhmina was under considerable pressure, but there was a strong public campaign for her cause. She admitted her guilt, repented, and was released, not giving the new president the chance to pardon somebody who was put in jail by the old president,” said Ikhlov.

Guesses have also been made about the possibility of her testifyingat Khodorkovsky’s second trial as a condition of her release. But boththe lawyers and the prosecutors have been vague on the subject, andnothing concrete has been said on it so far.

However, there could be another explanation behind her being set freebut not quite let off the hook. Sergei Mitrokhin, the leader of theYabloko party, once heavily financed by Khodorkovsky, said that theauthorities have long since developed a “modus operandi” for thehandling of political cases. The ruling on Bakhmina clearly fits intothis pattern, which his party is quite familiar with. The Deputy Headof Yabloko’s Moscow branch Ivan Bolshakov and the leader of the party’sregional branch in Karelia, Vasily Popov, recently received lengthysentences on what the party claims were phony accusations, but thesentences were suspended. According Mitrokhin, the goal was to scarethem out of continuing their political activities. “A suspendedsentence or parole leaves the state with an option to throw the personback into jail at any time. I cannot say whether Bakhmina could becalled in as a witness, but paroling as opposed to pardoning allows forher to be punished very quickly should she get into politics or speakin Khodorkovsky’s defense,” Mitrokhin said.