Today the Independent is running a piece by Andrew Osborne titled ” Khodorkovsky ‘a victim of vendetta by Kremlin’ as new charges are brought.” Here are some extracts:
Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, has already spent 1,200 days in custody, much of it behind bars in a town built on a uranium mine 3,000 miles east of Moscow. In 2005, a Moscow court found him and a business associate guilty of large-scale tax fraud and evasion and sentenced both to eight-year jail terms. In the Kremlin’s eyes, he was a latter-day Al Capone who got his just desserts after grabbing the country’s best assets through questionable means before biting the hand that had allowed him to get rich. But his supporters saw him as a political martyr punished for opposing Mr Putin and his authoritarian style of governance in what they labelled as a Stalinist-style show trial. Either way, the bespectacled oil tycoon must have thought things couldn’t get any worse. Yesterday, however, he discovered they could when he was charged with embezzling and laundering a sum of money that would make even the most ostentatious of oligarchs blush. … Khodorkovsky’s lawyers said their client regarded the charges as “insane and absurd”, claiming they were the product of a mind that was either “mad or drunk”. “His patience has reached its end in terms of the process that he has been put through,” Robert Amsterdam, a member of his legal team, said. “The present proceedings are a miscarriage of justice,” Mr Amsterdam said, and claimed the charges were designed to quash any chances Khodorkovsky had of winning parole, something he said his client would theoretically be eligible for from October of this year. Russia faces crunch parliamentary elections later this year and a presidential ballot in 2008. The Kremlin would not want to see a politically active Khodorkovsky released, Mr Amsterdam added.
Read the full article here.