Today a Russian judge announced that Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s request for parole has been denied. You can read coverage here and here. My brief statement: The Russian court has demonstrated a continued willingness to engage in Kafka-esque theatrics in order to make a mockery of justice and the rule of law. Legal nihilism exists and thrives in Siberia today – it is no surprise that this politically influenced hearing found further trumped up reasons to deny Mr. Khodorkovsky parole. The weakening of legal institutions and the Russian constitution continues. After the cut is the official defense statement.
Defence statementThe refusal of the Ingodinsky district court in Chita to grant Mikhail Khodorkovsky release on parole has little to do with justice though it was entirely to be expected.The enemies of Khodorkovsky, those who in 2003 organised criminal charges against him, are very much afraid of him being freed. They will do anything to ensure, contrary to the demands of the law and elementary morality, that he remains in prison, even going so far as to discredit the Russian State and the authority of the president who has declared in favour of judicial reform and the construction of an independent system of justice.On the eve of the court hearing of Khodorkovsky’s petition for parole it was clear to both the defence and the prosecution that there were not the slightest legal grounds for keeping him in prison. The “infringements” of prison regulations fabricated two weeks before he became eligible to apply for parole in October 2007 seemed insufficient. Literally days before the petition was due to be examined in court, therefore, the administration of the Chita remand centre and that of the Krasnokamensk penal colony where Khodorkovsky earlier served his sentence, were instructed to invent further “evidence” of Khodorkovsky’s inappropriate behaviour. This took the form of supposed “infringements of the prison rules” that could be used a pretext for denying parole.The public must be made aware what methods are being used by those who are determined to go on holding Khodorkovsky in prison for their own selfish purposes.The Ingodinsky district court made use of a formal pretext and unverified information to turn down Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s application for parole. This means that the time when legality and justice might be respected even as concerns Khodorkovsky has not yet come. This is despite the well-known statements and clear position of President Dmitry A. Medvedev that continue to instil hope in us.We shall go on fighting to free Mikhail Khodorkovsky by all the lawful means at our disposal, thereby advancing the time when the law will prevail.Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky’s defence team22 August 2008