Grigory Pasko: Thoughts on the Trial

Some thoughts on the trial


Grigory Pasko, journalist

At the trial in the case of the theft of all the oil in Russia, they are reading the text of the bill of indictment – 14 volumes of 300 pages apiece. I’m familiar with this: both with the crazy quantity of volumes of the charge, and with the standard selection of pages per volume. And also with that drivel the investigators usually write when they don’t have evidence or don’t have enough of it…

The first thing that jumps out at you in this charge – the vagueness of the formulations. By the way, both the lawyers for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, and the defendants themselves, have already spoken about this numerous times. They have spoken justly, because that is what the law demands. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, a charge – this is an assertion about the commission by a specific person of an act prohibited by law. If the person is not established (indicated is a supposedly organized criminal group, under which the prosecution has in mind just about 15 thousand employees of the company YUKOS), then what concreteness can be spoken of?.

Second. If they are charging Khodorkovsky and Lebedev with foundingan organized criminal group, then it is stupid, absurd and illogicalnot to include in this organized criminal group ALL the employees ofYUKOS – without them, after all – and this is evident – they would nothave stolen ALL the oil of the company! Besides this, if the stolen oilin so doing was directed to consumers at ministries and agencies (inparticular, the ministry of defense and the ministry of emergencysituations), then it would be logical to see the accomplices from thesestructures on the defendants’ bench as well. When they «lock up» athief, while at the flea market they catch a seller of the stolen ragsred-handed, the seller too gets thrown behind bars, not just the thief.

Third. If Khodorkovsky during the time of the commission by him ofthe crime discussed the topic of oil – the object of the crime – withPutin, Kudrin, Sechin, and hundreds of other high state officials andbusinessmen, then it is unlawful not to summon these to court forquestioning in the capacity of witnesses. This is demanded by theinteresting of the fullness of the judicial investigation and theinterests of defending the rights of the accused.

The moot situation with the translation of a text from English toRussian, when as the result of such a translation there appeared thedates of 32 and 38 December, was characterized by the defense as «thereplacement of established business expressions by phrases with acriminal tinge». The fact is that this – is a time-honored form ofamusement for repressive machinery, first and foremost the KGB. Havingtheir psychology and abilities, you can write any text with such aspin. And the KGB has succeeded at this. Let us take , as an example,such a phrase: «The child went to school with classmates». The wizardsfrom «the office» would have written it thus: «Having as an objectivethe commission of a particularly grave crime in the composition of anorganized group, ignoring the law and hoping to elude the deservedpunishment, the defendant N. at an unestablished time in anunestablished place committed acts associated with locomotion to theplace of the commission of the crime…» And so on. Funny? Even from thisside of the bars – not very.

In general, we need to have in mind that the investigators from theKGB have a rather unique sense of humor. Precisely for this reason,they are incapable of brevity in expressing their thoughts. For brevityassumes the presence of talent, while talent – is the presence ofthoughts. Evidently, things are somewhat tight with both the one andthe other. Hence – 14 volumes of 300 pages each in just the bill ofindictment alone.

Photo: People with a rather unique sense of humor: ProcuratorsDmitry Shokhin and Valery Lakhtin (L-R, bottom) and their prime movers(Photo collage by Grigory Pasko)