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Grigory Pasko: Churning Out the Kuchma Trial

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It’s sure been a long time since I last visited Moscow’s courts. But, having visited one today, I saw for myself: nothing’s changed there. A whole bunch of people. One judge over a brief period of time examines several cases. This is called tekuchka in Russian [meaning something like “churning them out” or “assembly-line”–Trans.]. How can you even talk about the quality of the meting out of courts here!

Already at 9 o’clock in the morning beside the courtroom in the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow there were five journalists. By the start of the court session on the lawsuit of the convict A. Kuchma against Mikhail Khodorkovsky on compensation of moral damage for supposedly sexual solicitations on the part of Khodorkovsky there were already 20 journalists. Soon the court bailiff appeared – a pretty young woman – and reported that only seven scribes would be able to enter the courtroom. (I hasten to report that the correspondent of the blog www.robertamsterdam.com was in the number of these seven).

Being an experienced former inmate myself, the first thing I noticedwas a small piece of paper unassumingly hanging on the courtroom door.On it was indicated that the session on Kuchma’s lawsuit will begin at10:00 Moscow time. And a hearing for another case was already scheduledfor 10:30. Consequently, I thought to myself, a hearing of the case onthe merits will not take place, Kuchma won’t be here, while judge IrinaMakarova has already adopted a decision with respect to postponing thecase to a later time.

And that’s exactly what happened.

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Khodorkovsky’s lawyers Natalia Terekhova and Yuri Schmidt prepare for a trial for which the prisoner plaintiff can’t be located (photo by Grigory Pasko)

In the very first minutes of the session, Makarova reported that inthe court had appeared representatives of Khodorkovsky lawyers YuriSchmidt and Natalia Terekhova. Then, looking at us journalists, sheasked if there are among us representatives of Kuchma. There turned outto be no supporters of Kuchma’s among the journalists. Furthermore, hadthey asked me, I would have recounted that in the year 2007 throughKuchma’s lawyer mister Volchek I had taken an interview from… Kuchmahimself. And that then, Kuchma had said that he had had a conflict withKhodorkovsky , but for a completely different reason, not at allsexual. So which time had Kuchma been lying: when he was answering myquestions to his lawyer, or when he wrote the little paper(interesting, at whose dictation?) to the court about the solititationsof Khodorkovsky that supposedly had taken place?

Next, judge Makarova reported that the attempts of the court to getahold of the plaintiff Kuchma had not been crowned with success.Although before this day in the mass information media there hadappeared information about how Kuchma had been brought in his time fromChita to Vladimir, and from Vladimir to Moscow. In such a manner, itbecame clear that the drug addict Kuchma, thirsting to obtain 500 000rubles from Khodorkovsky for «sexual solicitations», is found who knowswhere. The judge, turning to the lawyers of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, evenpronounced such a phrase: «If the place where Kuchma is located isknown to you – report [it] to the court».

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Russian Federation. Meshchansky District Court. city of Moscow (photo by Grigory Pasko)

Then the judge of the Meshchansky Court of Moscow overturned a petitionof the defense of ex-head of NK YUKOS Mikhail Khodorkovsky to deliverKhodorkovsky himself from the investigative isolator of Chita. In sodoing, it was indicated that his testimony Khodorkovsky can provide thecourt in writing.

After this, Yuri Markovich Schmidt read out a petition of thedefense about the demanding by the court of all the necessarydocuments. In part, the materials of the investigation of the incidentthat took place in the year 2006 between Kuchma and Khodorkovsky incolony No. 10, when Kuchma slashed Mikhail Borisovich with a knife. Inpart, the materials of the investigation of another incident, when theypunished Khodorkovsky for imbibing tea in a supposedly improper place.In part, the materials of the investigation of the circumstances of theacquisition and storage by Kuchma of two knives and a razor during thetime of being found in the colony…

Certain items of this petition were satisfied by the court. The nexthearing with respect to the case was set for 25 February of this year.

After the court session, Yuri Schmidt declared to the journaliststhat, in his opinion, the main objective of Kuchma’s lawsuit – is totarnish Khodorkovsky. Schmidt noted that the given process “is aninvention and the favorite child of employees of the Federal Servicefor the Execution of Punishments (FSIN)”. “They,” said Yuri Markovich,”obviously, at some moment, while deciding how to compromiseKhodorkovsky in yet another way, decided – why not make it so thatbesides being an embezzler, he’d also be a profoundly amoral person”.

“It is known to everybody that despite the fact that they’ve beentrying for five years to break him (Khodorkovsky), he is not breakingand is not yielding. Respect for him is only increasing”, – notedSchmidt.

Also Yuri Markovich noticed that the statement of claim by therepeat offender and drug addict Kuchma is drawn up literately andwithout errors, with references to the norms of the Civil Code, printedout on a computer, while the administration of FSIN for Chita hadprovided Kuchma with its own staff employee – a representative of thelegal department, which is categorically prohibited by law.

(According to the witness of the newspaper «Kommersant», in FSINthey refused to comment on the situation, however they did note thatduring the submission of lawsuits, inmates make use of the help ofemployees of the jail only in exceptional cases).

…And also such a phrase of judge Makarova stuck in my memory : « Inconsideration of the fact that Chita is not near… (Here she made a longpause, as if though she were imagining in her mind just how not near toMoscow this city is), the hearing with respect to the case is postponeduntil… (once again a lengthy pause) 25 February».

Something tells me that the power, the one that put Khodorkovskybehind bars, doesn’t know itself what to do next with all thisfoul-smelling story. Now they’ve added a homosexual theme to it aswell. For no other reason than because of the prosecution’spowerlessness…

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