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Grigory Pasko: The Chaos in Khamovnichesky Court

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In preparation for this week’s trial testimony of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, defense lawyers Yuri Schmidt, Vadim Klyuvgant, Natalia Terekhova, Elena Liptser and Konstantin Rivkin held a press conference I was able to attend at the editorial offices of the «Osobaya bukva».

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Having known and followed the work of these lawyers for several years now, I can see how hard it is for them to perform their jobs in a situation when mere hopes that laws will be observed are not fulfilled by the judge and prosecutors on a daily basis.  This is made even harder by the fact that their clients have been behind bars for seven years now.

At the press conference the lawyers said that:

– the presentation of evidence by the party of the prosecution has left more questions than answers;
– the majority of the witnesses called by the procurators factually gave testimony in favor of the defendants. Not a single could find it in himself to confirm the «fact» of the involvement of the YUKOS management in the theft of 350 mln tonnes of oil, which is the subject of the court proceedings;


– on 5 April in the Khamovnichesky court would start a new stage of thejudicial examination — the party of the defense would begin to presentits evidence. It would start with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s testimony;
– that the charge is completely falsified.

I recalled the words of Elena Liptser: “The defense has no illusionsabout the outcome of the judicial process. We are recording all theviolations from the court, and there was no small number of them…We arepreparing arguments for an appeal to the Strasbourg court…

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s hard to be a defense lawyer in acountry when you know in advance that you’re going to have to appeal toan international court.

And the period – the presentation of evidence by the party of thedefense – will also not be easy. Because there is one peculiarity inthe system of all the meanness and nastiness of the prosecution: thestate prosecutors did not present to the court ALL the necessarydocuments that had been seized in different places, including theoffices of the YUKOS company. That is, the prosecution consciously keptback evidence vindicating the defendants Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.

Yuri Schmidt in connection with this reminded that the court, in hisopinion, is not going to be adopting a decision – it will merely bepackaging it. True, in so doing Yuri Markovich noticed that today it’sanother millennium outside: there already are decisions of foreigncourts, in one way or another connected with the YUKOS case. The poweris feeling discomfort with the second case. Public opinion within thecountry has changed… (In connection with this I have a question for theparticipants in our community: what do you think, has it reallychanged? If «yes», then, if possible, provide some concrete examples).

…Answering the question of a journalist, the lawyers cited severalexamples of the blatant stupidity of the prosecution: incorrecttranslations (YUKOS 011 instead of Yukos-Oil); the firm belief thatVictoria Road – this is a woman, and not a street in London; improperlyindicated geographic names (the island of Gibraltar); the absence ofvictims in the trial…

After the press conference, Yuri Schmidt expressed surprise that therewere so few questions on behalf of the journalists. And I noticed thatthe journalists were the very same ones who usually come to the courtsessions in the Khamovnichesky court. They all know one another, theyknow the case, they have learned about the procurators and their styleof mocking the laws… They already understand a lot even without extraquestions to the lawyers.

I hope that they will be able to convey their knowledge and convictionswith respect to this flagrant trial to their readers-viewers-listeners.