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Grigory Pasko: The calm before the … what?

The calm before the … what? Grigory Pasko, journalist Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. Usually, there is a calm before a storm. In the glass that is Russia’s turbid and muddy life, which the leadership of the country calls “the development of democratic processes and the further strengthening of the economy”, there can’t be a storm in principle any more: all the institutions of democracy have been suppressed, rallies and marches have effectively been banned, the opposition is splintered and atomized, the media are controlled… Against this background, with the arrival of the new president there all of a sudden arose expectations that perhaps something new might take place with the «YUKOS affair». Where could these expectations have come from? sizo070908 The investigative isolator facility (SIZO) in Chita where Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are presently being held. (Photo by Grigory Pasko)

On 8 July expired the 17-month term of detention in the new, second case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. The defense assumes that the investigation will then grant the accuseds the opportunity to read the case file for exactly as long as the question of its judicial prospects is being decided “upstairs”. At the very least, the defense is convinced that the familiarization process will last a minimum of another two-three months.Likewise, in the words of the defense, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev have studied no more than half of the materials of the case file and will not agree voluntarily to its being sent to court for trial before full familiarization with it.Here the following should be noted. It is not known how much longer they’re going to be deciding this question with Khodorkovsky “upstairs”. Because the situation has been made so complicated by the big bosses themselves (by Putin and his entourage, as well as by all the grovelling toadies trying to score points with him) that it’s nearly impossible to come out of it juridically unscathed: one way or another, somebody from among the number of those in charge of the investigation is going to have to become the designated scapegoat.Obviously, you can’t just continue familiarization with the case file materials forever. That is, in two-three months you’re still going to have to adopt some sort of decision. It’s probably not going to be a pivotal decision: for now the power is still afraid to let Khodorkovsky and Lebedev go free.I will remind readers of the blog that in February of the year 2007, the Procuracy-General of Russia accused Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev of the violation of the Articles of the Criminal Code «Embezzlement or misappropriation” and “Legalization (laundering) of monetary funds in a particularly large amount”. Allegedly, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had stolen on the order of 350 million metric tons of oil [more than 2.5 million barrels—Trans.] (everything produced by YUKOS in the period from 1998 through the year 2004), while the proceeds from its sale (487 billion rubles and 7.5 billion dollars) they had “laundered” and pocketed.Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s defender Vadim Klyuvgant declared that the trial in the case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev must take place in Moscow, and not in Chita: “In accordance with the principle of territorial jurisdiction, secured by law, this case must be considered by a capitoline court, inasmuch as all the incriminated episodes took place in Moscow or beyond the border”.It seems to me that this circumstance as well – the place where the trial takes place – also can’t be evidence of anything. You could, after all, bring the former YUKOS managers to Moscow, convict them, and then simply bring them right back to Chita Oblast.In its declaration, the defense of Mikhail Khodorkovsky noted the following: “Against the background of how beautiful and proper words are being pronounced from lofty pulpits, while strategic ideas for their realization are being elaborated in high offices, the behavior of the chiefs of the investigative group and those persons well known to everybody who are directing their activity, is becoming ever more openly indecent, defiant, aimed at sabotaging the demands of the leadership of the country and undermining its authority…”By “the demands of the leadership of the country” the defenders mean Medvedev’s words about legal nihilism, the dependence of judges, and other lofty slogans that those “lawyers”, Putin and Medvedev, so love to pronounce. I will note on my part: the chiefs of the investigation are behaving themselves in exactly the way those same Putin and Medvedev are allowing them to act. And it is obvious that everything that concerns Khodorkovsky continues to this day to be sanctioned by comrade Putin, who has a personal hatred of him.Hence the whole traditional package of violations of legislation on the part of the procuratorial workers, that is customarily applied in relation to those whom the power hates: ignoring the defense lawyers as full-fledged participants in the trial; tossing into the case additional volumes with copies of materials from a completely different criminal case; denying as “groundless” and “not related to the case” of ALL petitions declared by Khodorkovsky and his defense; consciously repeating false information about Khodorkovsky (let us recall how Putin at a press conference in France said that Khodorkovsky had been denied entry into the USA, while the former head of YUKOS himself was practically an accessory to murders)…Fitting right in with these manifestations of lawlessness, cynicism and outright cowardice organically are such typically KGB games as, for example, the re-lodging of new charges practically on Khodorkovsky’s birthday. This isn’t know-how, as was decided by someone of the democratically-inclined journalists, evidently not familiar with the work methods of the KGB.This is – an old way of putting pressure on an inmate under investigation.A method, it needs to be said, that works only in the event if the person under investigation is sitting in jail less than two months. To keep on playing such games further on is useless: the person already expects base behavior from the investigators and, as a rule, is morally prepared for it. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been behind the barbed wire for a long time already. Such games can only perhaps evoke a wry smile from them, but no more…… But, to all appearances, it would seem that those who are persecuting the Yukosites aren’t in any mood at all for smiles these days. They need to decide what to do next with the mess they’ve created. And if Western leaders are going to continue to consistently persist in their efforts to get some clear explanations from the Russian power about what is really going on with the YUKOS case, then we can expect that the power will at last undertake some kind of actions, and today’s calm will be replaced with action on the shameful front of the struggle with Khodorkovsky and his colleagues.