As soon as she landed in Moscow on February 7 after her ordeal in Chita airport earlier that day, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Karinna Moskalenko rushed to the “Echo Moskvy” radio station to give an exclusive interview on what had just happened with her, including the details over the documents the procuracy general tried to force her to sign under duress. RA.com’s translator has given us the entire transcript of the interview, available for download here. Here are the answers to first few questions:
ECHO: Hello. Karinna Moskalenko, lawyer for Mikhail Khodorkovsky MOSKALENKO: The only thing that absolves me is that I came to you right from the airport. ECHO: Oh come now, there is much that absolves you. We are not those who intend to accuse or adjudge you for something. MOSKALENKO: You don’t say! ECHO: Please, tell us everything in the order it happened. Because we’re already getting questions from listeners. First the basic facts. What happened there? What did they force you to sign. MOSKALENKO: First a small preamble. I consider that there are exactly two serious problems with respect to this case. One problem is the Procuracy General’s. The Procuracy-General doesn’t under any circumstances want that these, as we say, mad, absurd, groundless (to say it more diplomatically) charges become known to our population. They’ve told our population that he’s guilty of grave crimes, but they don’t want to say what these crimes consist of. They don’t want to give us the opportunity to refute them rationally. ECHO: What do you mean, they don’t want? They named the articles [of the Criminal Code under which Khodorkovsky has been charged]. MOSKALENKO: Yes. ECHO: Theft plus laundering. MOSKALENKO: You said that, not I. ECHO: I said that, but illiterately. MOSKALENKO: No, you said what they said illiterately, they accused him before all of Russia. And now we want to tell all of Russia from what substitutions – that’s what I call it – these charges are put together. But they’re not letting us. How can you keep lawyers from doing this? They’re free people. In a free, democratic country. In that case you need to artificially introduce some kind of prohibition. The prohibition is set forth in the code of criminal procedure for a specific category of cases, and when the secrecy of the investigation demands the silence of the participants in the processes, it gives the opportunity to obtain a signature of non-disclosure of the data of the investigation. It is rather difficult to fight against this; Article 310 about criminal liability for this act is quite vague. It really ought to be given some thought in the context of the constitutionality of this norm; indeed, to demand through the Constitutional Court. But there’s no time. For us, for the defense. They’re already now starting to press us, indeed press us this way: It would seem that it is within their capability to force us to sign [a non-disclosure statement] with respect to the case for which we have been invited to Chita. And, in general, to do so at least lawfully, at least creating the appearance of the law, let’s put it that way. But what do they do? They make a substitution. They say: Here, sign that you won’t disclose information with respect to case number – and there we notice a long number that we have never seen before. ECHO: This is an unknown [case] number? MOSKALENKO: An unknown number. But there must be a dozen of these numbers, probably. Not only did we not know about this number, we were warned and invited to the city of Chita with respect to another case number that was known to us. And we came. But here they’re telling us: not knowing what, not knowing about what, sign here that you will not disclose this. But my friends, I don’t know what it is I’m not supposed to be disclosing. This is simple human logic talking: Karinna, wait. You’re not signing about yourself; the man you are defending is behind you. You have a duty, this is your professional duty, to act in his best interests. If they shut your mouth in the case about which you don’t even know what it’s even about, then you’ll not only cause yourself harm, you might even accidentally find yourself criminally liable. Because there won’t be any delays at the Procuracy-General. They’ve been threatening me a long time. If you recall, in this very studio in the next room we talked about how they’ve been promising for a long time to take away my high calling of “advocate” [i.e. disbar me] which it was not they who had given me. And here, can you imagine, criminal liability plain and simple. Signing a document obliging me not to leave town and various frightening bloody boys. And so, in order not to do this, in order not to cause harm to myself as a lawyer, because I’m needed in the case after all, and not to cause harm to my client, because, in my opinion, he’s already had so much harm caused to him anywhere and everywhere that you’ve simply got to take pity on the person. And I decide for myself: I am not going to sign a document that in essence represents a counterfeit document. Fabricated. And I state this position, I state it yesterday, on the 5th, and Yuri Markovich Schmidt states pretty much the same thing, that this case number is unknown to us, and we can’t sign. On the 6th they don’t touch us with this. Although we’re being taken around practically like a prisoner convoy, because those same convoy guards who escorted us into the security zone don’t give us the opportunity to go out onto the street, but demand that we go to through to the chief of the institution. The chief of the institution has nothing against us. This is a calm, decent lieutenant-colonel person. But there we meet the investigative group, which, firstly, is running around like it owns the place, there in the investigative isolator. You remember how much we fought for the independence of the penitentiary system from the organs of investigation. So, we lost, becasue we had somehow managed to attain this for them, but they absolutely don’t know how to hold on to their independence in their own hands. They’re walking around like servant girls, serving the interests of the Procuracy-General. And not even legitimate interests of the Procuracy, I might add. The Procuracy-General is in command there, step up here, put your signature there. Sign here to receive this. We say: Excuse us, but maybe after all you’ll do this not after 6 PM in the evening, someplace in some office, where we can have a seat and review the documents. In general, the character of the documents is incorrect. Let’s discuss. You put your signature right there or we’ll file a report right now that you’re refusing to sign. Okay, file away, no problem, you’ve already filed so many anyway. ECHO: And what’s this? MOSKALENKO: That we are acting wrongfully and are disturbing the conduction of their actions with respect to taking signatures from us. So that’s how it all was. We were escorted there, we spent some time there, eventually did get copies of these document, eventually they filed, probably, some kind of papers about how we’re nothing but a bunch of refuseniks. And that seemed to be the end of that. And in the evening I get a call from an investigator, a lady, she’s sweet, she always behaves so daintily and politely, she says: so you’re leaving tomorrow at 9:30. Okay, everything’s clear. I tell her at this time that I’ve got a seriously ill child, that I have already finished work with my client. I also add that he’s already written that he does not need my participation in these actions, I’m going to continue work on my way with the European Court. So I say, as they say, have a nice stay. ECHO: By the way, how are things there? MOSKALENKO: That’s no “by the way” question. Let’s get to the end of one question. So, yes, she says: I’ll call you back. And she calls me back in a very bizarre manner. The littele bell rang today at 8 in the morning, when they came up to me after passing through security, I finally got to the Chita airport, that is by car. After going through all kinds of screenings. Shoes off, overcoat off, without suitcase, with suitcase, without purse, with purse. They went through everything, even when they had doubts, I say: I’d better open the suitcase for you. Everything was very polite.