Medvedev Replies to the Bakhmina Letter

In late September, we reported how a school classmate of imprisoned ex-YUKOS lawyer Svetlana Bakhmina had written a letter to president Dmitry Medvedev asking him to show mercy and grant a pardon to her friend, who had recently been denied parole even though she was eligible for it under Russian law, and who was at that time seven months pregnant. After this letter had become public, a remarkable grassroots internet petition campaign started up in Russia, which has so far collected nearly 90,000 signatures in support of Bakhmina’s release. And Bakhmina herself, who remains behind bars, has recently given birth to a baby girl. But what happened to the original letter from the classmate? In Russia’s sometimes stifling bureaucratic system, all letters officially sent to a government official require an official response. Well, the wait is over, but the response was quite unusual to say the least. Here is our exclusive translation of a piece that has just appeared on the website «Izbrannoye», which purports to present “The logic of the main events in Russia and the world”. Unfortunately, there’s not much logic here…


2 December
D. A. Medvedev, it turns out, is called A.A.Malkov
To one letter in support of Svetlana Bakhmina an answer has been received. To the rest – no
01.12.2008 19:08

Svetlana Bakhmina’s classmate Olga Kalashnikova (Bogdanova), who had written to president Medvedev a letter with a request to pardon the former YUKOS lawyer, has received an official reply. The reply has mystified Bakhmina’s classmate. She explained, why.

“On 25 September of this year I wrote President of the RussianFederation Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev a personal letter about thefate of my classmate Svetlana Bakhmina.

This morning a letter of response came to me. True, not from thepresident – the person whom I had addressed. And not even from hissecretariat, which would have been logical.

…On the envelope was an extremely strange “recipient’s address”,that is, apparently, mine: some Warsaw prospekt, which, as it seems tome, simply does not exist in the capital. However, the letter, judgingby the postmarks, found the addressee, that is me, in just a week. Itis interesting if the president is aware of this: letters addressed tohim are sometimes answered by Chief of the UFSIN [Administration of theFederal Service for the Execution of Punishments] of Russia for theRepublic of Mordova, major-general of internal service A.A.Malkov.Could this be that very same one who had lost Sveta’s supplication[asking the president for a pardon], which she then withdrew? And so,this person, judging by everything, considers me a degenerate. I willnow clarify.

I wrote to the president: “They filed for conditional-early release:the first time the court denied it, reasoning the existence ofdemerits. But the penalties had been lifted officially! And indeed theywere for – the fact that she had not immediately understood pettyeveryday prison rules. The instance above indicated at thegroundlessness of the denial and returned [the application] for asecond examination. And here once again – the same answer, the samearguments”.

To this they answer me:

“Your declaration with respect to the question of the conditionalearly release of the convict Bakhmina S.P., addressed to the Presidentof the RF, has been checked by the UFSIN of Russia for the Republic ofMordovia.

It has been established (spelling and punctuation maintained) thatin the year 27.05.2008 a petition by the convict S.P. Bakhmina wasexamined by the Zubovo-Polyansky district court of RM [the Republic ofMordovia] and was refused in conditional early release, as not havingstood onto the path of correction.

By cassational appeal of the convict Bakhmina S.P. the decree of theZubovo-Polyansky district court of RM of the year 27.05.2008, by theSupreme court to the Republic of Mordovia in the year 30.07.3008 wasrepealed.

In the year 10.09.2008 by the Zubovo-Polyansky district court of RMwas denied anew in the conditional early release of the convictBakhmina S.P.

In the year 28.10.2008 in cassational procedure by the convictBakhmina S.P. was appealed the decree of the Zubovo-Polyansky districtcourt of the year 10.09.2008.

The administration of FBU IK-14 of the UFSIN of Russia for theRepublic of Mordovia supportet (the last letter corrected to “d” inpencil) the petition of Bakhmina S.P. about ditional early (sic)release [the omission of the first syllable is even funnier in Russian,as it sounds like “as if though early”–Trans.].

The given decision You can appeal to a higher-standing organization, court, procuracy”.

That is, they had had their doubts as to whether I had set out thesituation with the conditional early release correctly to thePresident. Turns out, I had gotten it right. It is just this, as Iunderstand it, that they decided to bring to my notice: good job,everything is accurate. She submitted, they refused, she submitted,they refused again. That’s all.

What decision is it that I can appeal in a higher-standing instance,court, procuracy, citizen Malkov? The decision of the administration ofthe colony to support the petition?

Some kind of drivel.

Besides this, I remind, that the letter (and not a declaration) toPresident of the Russian Federation Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev waswritten not “with respect to the question of the conditional earlyrelease of the convict Bakhmina S.P.”, but with respect to the questionof human mercy. Apparently, they don’t know such a service in thechancellery of the president.

Then I will repeat. Inasmuch as now it’s hardly necessary to explainwho Svetlana Bakhmina is, I will limit myself to the last, slightlyedited – because now Sveta’s got three children, paragraphs.

“Esteemed Dmitry Anatolievich. I am aware that the courts here inour country are an independent instance. But I am convinced that byYour will – it is completely possible to return a mother to herchildren.

Whether she is guilty or not – is unimportant now. In any case, sheis punished more than sufficiently. And has already served as ademonstrative example. But – it is the children first and foremost whoare being punished. Both the two boys, who are living a fourth yearwithout her, and the girl, who has just been born…

We had hoped so many times over these years that everything wouldend any moment now. That our Sveta would return. Each time our hopeswere not justified. Please, let a miracle occur. Be, please, merciful:release Svetlana home.

I think the degree of public danger of Svetlana is greatly exaggerated.

I understand that this is very naive. And yet: please, do this.Please. No arguments other than the fact that she is my friend and thatI, as they say, am «sticking my neck out, fool that I am». It’s justthat it seems to me that, besides the law executed by the court, thereare human and Divine laws. And they – are more important.

Thank you for your attention”.

We remind that there is still no response to the letter under whichby 23 October stood 60 thousand signatures of internet users. Todayunder it – nearly 90 thousand signatures. There is no response eitherto the letter of representatives of the creative intelligentsia, whichhad been initiated by the writer Boris Akunin and the director VladimirMirzoyev – under it are 80 signatures.