Grigory Pasko: The “YUKOS Affair” Snowball Keeps Rolling and Growing

It seems that Russia’s procuracy has decided to start the New Year off with a bang, a flurry of hyperactivity to demonstrate its loyalty to “tsar and country” in the matter of destroying whatever is still left of YUKOS. Nearly every day sees a torrent of news flashes from the frontlines in the battle with the remnants of the oil company and personally with its former managers. And the news keeps getting more and more ridiculous. The first news: Antonio Valdes-Garcia, one of the “figurants” in the “YUKOS case”, has escaped from an apartment where he was being kept under guard. He was promptly placed on a wanted list. And it was hinted that certain accomplices of Khodorkovsky’s may have had something to do with his escape. Any sane and sensible person understands that it’s practically impossible to escape from an apartment that’s under guard just like that, simply by lulling the guards into lowering their vigilance. Surely it was the law-enforcement workers themselves who set up the escape, in order to find at least some grounds for the latest accusation against “Khodorkovsky’s confederates” who supposedly remain at large and in hiding from the punishment they so richly deserve. The second news also concerns “confederates”. Indeed, here we even hear the name of a confederate – Nevzlin. And so, four citizens of Israel who have unexpectedly found themselves in the role of hostages in a Moscow jail and whom Russia refuses to send back to Israel to serve out the remainder of their sentences were recently informed that instead of Israel, the plan is now to transfer them to a prison located 12 hours by car from Moscow. It is noteworthy that after the four Israelis were convicted, the article of the charges under which they had ended up in jail was struck out of the Criminal Code of the RF. The families of the convicts have every reason to believe that their relatives have become the victims of Putin’s vengeance, provoked by Israel’s refusal to extradite the oligarch Leonid Nevzlin – yet another sworn enemy of Vladimir Putin. golubovich.jpg Alexei Golubovich / Photo from Here’s some more news: The first interrogations have begun of former YUKOS Director for Strategic Planning and Corporate Finances Alexey Golubovich. It is known that Golubovich, who returned to Russia, is “voluntarily and actively” cooperating with the investigation in the YUKOS case. (I personally have my doubts about just how voluntary the actions of the returnee can be: most likely what took place was ordinary blackmail – you give us dirt and we’ll give you freedom. We might even let you live.) We also know the reaction of Platon Lebedev’s lawyer Vladimir Krasnov to Golubovich’s “voluntary” testimony: “In his public appearance, Mr. Golubovich, in part, declared that there was no way Khodorkovsky could not have known what Leonid Nevzlin was ‘up to’. It would seem that his testimony to the investigation will be in that same tone.” What is most interesting – and I’m sure the lawyers in the YUKOS case understand this – is that even such a low quality of testimony and evidence (or rather, the total absence of either, to be more precise) will be just fine for the court in the next trial of the oil company executives. Need we mention that the returnee Golubovich, as the newspapers are writing, has promised to declare for the record to the investigation that a threat to his life is emanating from YUKOS shareholder Leonid Nevzlin? Time to sum up. The new burst of activity by the procuracy in the “YUKOS case” is aimed not only at Khodorkovsky – who, legally speaking, has the right to count on early release on parole as early as next year – but also at Nevzlin. As we know, the procuracy also connected the poisoning of former FSB officer Litvinenko in London to Nevzlin. The procuracy’s moves may not be very sophisticated, but they’re good enough for Russian-style justice.