Khodorkovsky’s First Statement to Court: “Power, carry out your laws”

From Day 1 of the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the following dramatic statement was read and greeted with surprising applause from observers and media in the courtroom.

To the Khamovnichesky District Court of the city of Moscow
To Federal Judge V.N. Danilkin
From M.B. Khodorkovsky


At the preliminary hearing, I declared that I would answer any questions relevant to the charge that has been brought against me, and would not be playing any tricks and hiding behind procedural stickling points.

I confirm my position.

At the same time, I declared that inasmuch as the political sub-current of the whole YUKOS case is self-evident, I would not speak about the political component of the given charge, in order not to obscure the essence of the case.

I confirm my position.

I declared that I consider lies in a court session to be – as aminimum – disrespect towards the court, and I ask the court to react tosuch attempts. If the court does not deem it possible to manifest areaction as applies to the state prosecutors, I am going to have torequest their withdrawal.

I confirm my position.

I declared that I would speak only to the substance of the charge andabout the actions of employees of the prosecutor’s office. But thisalso signifies my readiness to demonstrate to society and to the courtthe consequences of their actions and of the decisions adopted by them.

I can not abstract myself from the consequences of the events of2003-2005, since they illustrate the real significance of the YUKOScase for our country and our society. I can not but remind you thatright after my arrest, an amendment to the Criminal Code, that wouldhave allowed the lifting of criminal liability for tax offenses if thedamages were remunerated, was withdrawn before the third reading. Abacchanalia of such cases in the ensuing three years became the directresult. As a direct consequence of the YUKOS case came the shift ofraiding as well to a completely different qualitative level – thebroadest possible use of the state resource, including the lawenforcement agencies, on a commercial basis, during the taking of theproperty of others.

Now, President Dmitry Medvedev is attempting to deal with this problem, which has become a nationwide tragedy.

The amendment to Art.73 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, allowingpeople to be sent from Moscow to Chita, was also introduced for anobvious reason, but it has affected tens of thousands of people.Likewise, as tens of thousands of our citizens have been affected bythe abandonment of two planned amnesties and the emasculation of theamnesty for the day of the 60th anniversary of Victory, or thewithdrawal of the broadly discussed project on enhanced credit towardsterms served for time spent in an Investigative Isolator.

That one of the naively concealed motives has become the concreteinterests of concrete officials in the YUKOS case – this is no secretto anyone. Furthermore, this information is being circulatedconsistently, in part by employees of the Federal Service for theExecution of Punishments.

In general, I fear that no matter how much one might want to abstractoneself, to forget about the YUKOS case – nothing will come of this.Although, in stepping yet again on the same rake, one might expect thatthis time around one will be lucky, and there won’t be anyconsequences… There will. Positive ones, I hope.

In general, my motto in this trial is taken from the Soviet political dissidents of the 70s: «Power, carry out your laws».

M.B. Khodorkovsky