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Big Changes at the Khodorkovsky Trial

mbk040209.jpgThis one comes from the Economist:

BIG changes in Russian political life are often ushered in by trials. The first show trial of the Shakhty engineers in 1928 paved the way for Stalin’s consolidation of power in 1929. The 1935-36 trials of Kamenev and Zinoviev, two Bolshevik revolutionaries who fell out with Stalin, heralded the great terror a year later. The trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, which opened in Moscow on March 31st, could be as pivotal for Russian political life today.

This is the second trial of Mr Khodorkovsky–and the first under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. It may earn Mr Medvedev either a place in history or a footnote in the story of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin. The arrest of Mr Lebedev in July 2003, followed by that of Mr Khodorkovsky in October 2003, ended in the destruction of their Yukos oil company and eight-year jail terms for both men. It heralded a turn away from the liberalism of the 1990s towards an authoritarian corporatism. And it began the redistribution of property and power towards former and present security-service men, collectively known as siloviki.

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