I think I have made my own perspectives on the verdict and sentence handed down to Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev abundantly clear in a variety of interviews. However today’s news of the almost maximum sentence of 14 years (six more to serve) ordered up by Judge Viktor Danilkin (precisely what the prosecutors and Vladimir Putin asked for) has prompted a number of reactions across the world.
From the U.S. State Department: “We remain concerned by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends, particularly now that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been sentenced to the maximum penalty,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, referring to Khodorkovsky’s co-defendant Platon Lebedev.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel: “I am disappointed with the verdict against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the harsh sentence. The impression remains that political motives played a role in this process. This contradicts Russia’s repeatedly expressed intention to follow the road to full rule of law. “
Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger: “The fact that the Kremlin critic was convicted again for the same facts, for which he was already seven years in prison, is absolutely unacceptable. The announcements of Russian politicians to respect principles of the rule of law in the future have proved to be meaningless. Verdict and sentence were clearly politically motivated.“
CDU Secretary-General Gröhe: “Conviction and sentence show how far Russia is away from rule of law and how much political arbitrariness still dominates the judiciary. (…) Without freedom rights, rule of law and separation of powers, there can be no modernization of Russia.“
Statement from French Foreign Ministry: “We urge Russian authorities to take into account concerns that the courtprocedure caused in relation to the need for Russia to approbate valuesthat are part of our common heritage: the rule of law, respect forhuman rights and fundamental freedoms.“
Andre Glucksmann: “The Yukos business has been dismantled, its assets joyfullydistributed to Kremlin insiders. The fleeced ex-oligarch has alreadybeen unjustly punished by seven years in a Siberian cell on charges offraud. Why has he not been set free, or simply exiled? Why not reassureforeign investors, who are disinclined to risk personnel and capitalin a country rotten with general corruption and with the arbitrarygreed of kleptocrats? Here’s the explanation: Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s true guilt is very grave. He is right, and Vladimir Putin is wrong. “
Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International: “The Russian authorities’ consistent disregard for due process inthis trial only strengthens the impression that this second round ofconvictions has been politically motivated. All evidence points to apattern of political motives and interference having obstructed justicein this case. The Moscow City Court must overturn this unfairconviction, to restore faith in the independence of Russia’s legalsystem.“
Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament: “The case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has become an emblematic symbol of the systemic problems of the rule of law, legal nihilism and human rights in today’s Russia. (…) I cannot but reiterate my solidarity with Mr Khodorkovsky and his family. I met with his mother Marina Khodorkovskaya on December 15, the day before his verdict was initially scheduled. I call strongly for the separation of powers between the judiciary, executive and legislature to be fully respected in Russia. Only then, will the modernisation agenda which President Medvedvev promotes so strongly have a chance of becoming reality.”
Andrew Wilson, European Council on Foreign Relations: “Definitely, there is no rule of law in Russia. There is the opposite:the trial shows that everyone is fundamentally prosecutable.“
The Economist: “What is clear is that it will be determined by the political needs of Mr Putin rather than by the requirements of the law. Mr Khodorkovsky’s captivity and the state’s expropriation of Yukos form a linchpin of the political system constructed by Mr Putin. And to judge by his recent activity, he has no plans to retire soon.“