Mikhail Khodorkovsky Statement to Court, April 7, 2009

khodorkovsky040709.jpgThe following statement was delivered in court today by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  Some media coverage can be read here.

To the Khamovnichesky District Court of the city of Moscow

To Federal Judge V.N. Danilkin
From M.B. Khodorkovsky


I hereby inform you that during the course of the preliminary investigation, despite the knowingly false assertions made in this court by the supervising prosecutor, despite the knowingly false decision of the Ingodinsky District Court (of judge L.V. Naryshkina), I was completely deprived of the right prescribed by Art.47 (4.1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, – to know what I have been charged with.

In order to deprive me of this right knowingly and in a speciallyorganized manner, investigator Salavat Karimov drew up the charge inincomprehensible and vague terms, and made use of knowinglycontradictory assertions, as well as false declarations discreditingme, transcending the bounds of the disposition of the article of theCriminal Code of the Russian Federation being brought against me.

As a second step, the investigators directly and unambiguously refusedto clarify for me the nebulous terms and contradictions, as well as thewhole of the acts that they consider to have been criminal.

I noted this refusal in all the procedural forms (records) available tome, and the investigators, to my astonishment, honestly attested to thefact of their refusal with their signatures, not even attempting todeclare another – false – position in the record.

Their honesty in this question astonished me.

However, judge of the Ingodinsky District Court of Chita Oblast (of TK[sic] Kray) L.V. Naryshkina corrected the honesty of the prosecutors,declaring in a response to my complaint that she had discerned in theentry «charge not clarified and not comprehensible» that the charge hadbeen clarified.

Why do I consider it necessary to bring the attention of the court tothis fact, even though it may be not the most important one for mepersonally?

President Dmitry Medvedev has noted on numerous occasions theimportance of the presence in the country of an authoritative andindependent judicial power.

This question truly is key – after all, in any crisis situation, aperson who feels his rights violated, and the position of officials tobe unscrupulous, has two ways out: calm (through a court) or restless(though civil protest).

In consideration of the specifics of our country, a court would bebetter, but for this it must be authoritative – and that meansindependent as well.

Like it or not, the YUKOS case is symbolic. And that means that all thethousands and tens of thousands of Russian courts, and the hundreds ofthousands and millions of employees of the law enforcement agencies,through the newspapers and television, see the standards of justiceestablished in this case as a model to emulate, as an example that onecan and should base oneself on. And if the judge allows himself tospeak obvious untruths with impunity in this case, you can be sure:tomorrow, tens of thousands of such records – from the road police,administrative, and criminal – are going to be «assessed» in the sameway by courts. You can do this, after all, it’s allowed. They are doingthis even now, but with apprehension as of yet.

Only what will happen to the authority of such a conscienceless court?Will it be an authority in the conflicts that inevitably occur insociety?

There will still be decisions in this case, and, in particular, averdict. Only 1 in 300 verdicts in Russian courts of the Rayon level isan acquittal. Sad.

I think that even in your worst nightmares, you could not dream of issuing a not-guilty verdict in this case.

On the other hand, the charge is obviously abominable. To issue anhonest yet guilty verdict in it is knowingly impossible, at the veryleast because with respect to one of the counts, the statute oflimitations has expired, and in the second – they forgot to falsify,invent and describe the act itself. There is only a classification. Andto discuss laundering without a crime is impossible.

In general, your position is not enviable. On the one hand – the clearposition of our country’s President to «judge by the law». On the other- a whole underground inter-agency commission: how to bend a judge andhis immediate superiors towards a guilty verdict.

It was far simpler for judge Kolesnikova from the Meshchansky Court:nobody demanded of her to «judge by the law», and besides she wasn’tparticularly worried about reputation either.

I do not know how you will resolve this dilemma for yourself, but thedecision of judge Naryshkina, in my opinion, was extremely regrettable.With such attention focused on the trial, she not only set herself up,but the power too, with her false decision.

President Dmitry Medvedev, having promised society an independent,honest judiciary, has taken on an extremely heavy, but very important,burden. I am afraid that based on the experience of the CommercialCourt, he already imagines clearly: without concrete personnelsolutions, nobody here takes declarations or signals seriously – noteven if they come from the President.

Or maybe the opposite – one example is enough for the judiciary? Thecourt will understand that it is a court, and not a cheap instrumentfor raiders and corruptioneers? Will it help the President and thecountry? We’ll see.

I will return to the topic of this session.

I hope that my right – violated in the course of the preliminaryinvestigation – to receive a clarification of the essence of the chargewill be observed at the new stage, in relation now to the bill ofindictment already.

M.B. Khodorkovsky