Grigory Pasko: The Provocations of Prosecutors


During my last visit to the Khodorkovsky trial courtroom, I had the opportunity to stop the procurators Kovalikhina and Shokhin outside on the staircase with a question: “Do the procurators give interviews?” Shokhin stopped short in surprise. Kovalikhina, continuing to move, replied: “They do. After the verdict.

Well, at least that. Before the verdict, they, apparently, have nothing to say. So much nothing that, besides the open loutishness of the procurator Lakhtin, nobody, it would seem, is expecting anything from them in the trial any more.

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On 7 April, the court day began, as usual. True, there were more visitors than usual, but fewer than on the 6th – the first day of the reading out of testimony by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Bearing witness on numerous occasions about how a cohesive public goes to the trial in the capacity of observers was the behavior of one of the bailiffs: he was knitting his brows every possible way, admonishing, threatening… He didn’t like it that the public was reacting in a lively way to the loutishness of the procurator Lakhtin.

On the whole, though, the customary situation ruled at the session:Khodorkovsky was speaking: the judge Danilkin was obviously notlistening to him and was busy with something of his own; the procuratorsShokhin, Lakhtin, Kovalikhina and Ibragimova were demonstratively notlistening to Khodorkovsky, occasionally exchanging a laugh with oneanother.

In the meantime, Khodorkovsky was speaking about how theinvestigation had acted in bad faith. In the capacity of evidence hecited as an example the fact that the investigative group had refused toattach to the case file a series of documents, includinginventory-taking reports and inventory lists.

A ruckus broke out when Mikhail Borisovich started to cite the decree onthe refusal to satisfy Lebedev’s complaint against the actions of theinvestigator Alyshev, which was issued by the deputy head of thedepartment for the investigation of particularly important cases — thehead of the first section of the Investigative Administration under theprocuracy of the RF, S. Kovrayev.

All of a sudden, Lakhtin started, jumped up and began to shout:«Khodorkovsky is taking a volume of the case and is showing us thisdocument. Is it or is it not contained there?…Is this document beingreproduced through the equipment in this form? I consider that it isnot contained there!»

The lawyer Schmidt reacted with the words: «Being demonstrated is atrue excerpt from the case file materials… — find it on your computer,stand up, make a statement that you are asking the court to check! Anddon’t interrupt, please! You do not have any right to interfere withthe defendant giving free testimony! Obey the law!».

«The defendant is defending himself in all ways not prohibited by law!» –reported the judge to Lakhtin. «Well he’s disoriented! – commentedLebedev on the prosecutor’s perplexity and added: — The given documentduring the time of the preliminary hearing I was producing to youpersonally and was reading this idiotic phrase of general Kovrayev’sinto the record!»
«I ask to admonish Lebedev! And as for Kovrayev, I’ll personally ringhim by telephone and report that they have offended him in this trial!With all the circumstances deriving therefrom!» — the procurator Lakhtinbegan to threaten the defendants. The courtroom was laughing.

«Justdon’t shoot yourself, Lakhtin!» — retorted Platon Lebedev from theaquarium.

Judge Danilkin threatened Lebedev with removal from the courtroom andannounced a five-minute recess.

Goodness! How this all looked like what I saw and experienced in «my»trials! In exactly the same way the procurators ignored the code ofcriminal procedure; in exactly the same way the judge pretended that hedoesn’t notice this; in exactly the same way I and my lawyers had toappeal to both the judge and the procurators to obey the law. Sometimesthe procurators would switch to yelling. I recall how one of them,shrieking, either filed a motion or simply voiced his thoughts. «I ask,- said he, – to enter Pasko’s smiles into the record!»

And how many times they promised to remove me from the cage!

It was all like being swept right back to the past.

The tragedy is only in that this – is reality. This time – forMikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and their lawyers. A tragedy -because the outcome of the trial is evident. Otherwise the judge wouldbehave himself differently: he’d be admonishing the procurators, givingthe defendant time to say what he has to say, would ask for details,and lastly would be looking at the screen, where the evidence of theinnocence of the defendants was being demonstrated… Alas, alas…

And still, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is right a thousand times over thathe’s setting forth his arguments in detail, precisely and clearly,smashing the «bad-faith» charge. He is also right in that time andagain he’s got to teach an Economics 101 course for the procurators andthe judge, that he doesn’t lose his composure and begin yelling himself(although I’m amazed how he manages to: I couldn’t; I, like Platon,would burst out and advise Lakhtin to go shoot himself)… At the end ofthe day, he’s doing this not just for the court. He’s doing this for ustoo, those who wish him to get out and be free as quickly as possible;and for those who for whatever reason are still captive to the falserepresentations about the decency of the charge.