The Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center has issued its latest newsletter, containing the following article signed by the defense team. Please consider dropping by the site to sign up for the list.
As the G20 Gather in London, Common Sense Goes on Trial in Moscow
As the G20 gather in London, in Russia a so-called ‘second’ trial against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev begins. While the political persecution of these two men has been widely seen in the world as a prime example of Russian ‘legal nihilism,’ it remains to be seen whether the upcoming trial will serve as a symbol of change in Russia and of President Medvedev’s commitment to the Rule of Law.
As the preliminary hearings, which started in the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow on March 3, have demonstrated, the prosecutors’ new allegations against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are unprecedented in monetary scale and in the high level of distortion of both facts and laws. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are accused of embezzling the entire oil production of Yukos over a six-year period and “laundering” the majority of the proceeds. The allegations are absurd, and completely refuted by defense evidence, which investigators refuse to admit into the case file.
Commenting at the end of the preliminary hearings, Vadim Klyuvgant,lead Russian defense lawyer for Khodorkovsky, said: “The purpose of thepre-trial hearings has been fulfilled, being to unmask the shameful,absurd, and illegal charges put forward by the prosecution. Thehearings demonstrated that the prosecution’s agenda has nothing to dowith ensuring justice is upheld, but everything to do with pushing avested agenda. It is clear that, along with Khodorkovsky and Lebedev,common sense is also on trial.”
“I really doubt it is a fair trial with truly independent judges andprosecution that will take everything into consideration that mayexonerate a defendant…I would dispute any sweeping statement thateverything Mr. Khodorkovsky is accused of can be generally judgedcriminal. Some of the acts were performed by everyone, and legal at thetime.”
— Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Former Minister of Justice,Germany and PACE Observer of first trial, Deutsche Welle, 5 March 2009)
“The Kremlin has sent two messages with the Khodorkovsky prosecutionand the first is that the Kremlin is going to play a role indetermining the fate of the country’s natural resources like oil andthe second is a warning to businessmen to curb their politicalambitions.”
— Allison Gill (Director of the Russia Office of Human Rights Watch, France24, 3 March 2009)
We, the members of the Khodorkovsky and Lebedev legal defense team,fully intend to present a robust defense supported by law. We willcontinue to demonstrate the absurdity of the charges, the legal defectsof the case, and the violations committed in the course of theinvestigation.
— Khodorkovsky and Lebedev Legal Defense Team