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Press Release: Khodorkovsky Lawyer Warns of New Fabricated Charges

Khodorkovsky Lawyer Warns of New Fabricated Charges — LONDON, December 22 – Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been moved from his prison to a pretrial detention facility, and new charges may be brought against him. The Russian prosecutor has informed Khodorkovsky’s legal counsel that investigatory hearings on a new criminal case will commence at a pretrial detention facility in Chita, southeast Siberia, on December 26. Robert Amsterdam, Khodorkovsky’s international defense counsel, stated: “What we can expect are trumped-up charges designed to keep a political prisoner in Siberia at a time when international alarm over the deterioration of human rights and the rule of law in Russia is increasing. In the face of growing worldwide concern about Mr. Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin’s response may be to try to deflate sympathy for him by introducing totally unfounded new charges as a means of character assassination. In reality, Mr. Khodorkovsky’s only crime was to oppose the Kremlin on matters of corruption, democracy and the free market.” Mr. Amsterdam added that new charges would be the Kremlin’s way of providing moral cover for its expropriation of the Yukos oil company, which was the opening act of the Kremlin’s attack on private property rights in the energy industry. International political leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and respected figures such as former Czech President Vaclav Havel, former Polish President Lech Walesa, and former Irish President Mary Robinson, have raised concerns about Mr. Khodorkovsky’s case. The Kremlin has blatantly disregarded these concerns at a time when international esteem for Russia’s rule of law is at an all-time low. Mr. Amsterdam said: “This regime has lost its moral authority to dispense justice. If new charges come to light, no one doubts that they would be purely politically motivated. What needs to be examined today is the criminality of certain people in or near the Kremlin.” Mr. Amsterdam stated that while he would be appalled by new charges, they would not surprise him. “They arrested an innocent man. They put on a show trial reminiscent of Stalinist tactics for dealing with political opponents. Defense lawyers were threatened with disbarment or deported. They sent Mr. Khodorkovsky to the gulag in a remote location in Siberia. They destroyed his company with absurd tax charges, amounting to eight dollars of tax per dollar of revenue in 2004. They forced the closure of his charitable Open Russia Foundation, the first example of modern Russian philanthropy. They sent masked officers armed with machine guns into the orphanage for war victims run by his parents, turning over every last stone in their search for his remaining funds. They announced the seizure of his house, threatening to throw out his wife and school-aged children. Should anyone be surprised by new charges designed to bury Mikhail Khodorkovsky?” Mr. Amsterdam also drew attention to the timing of Mr. Khodorkovsky’s transfer to the pretrial detention facility, which occurred on December 20, and the opening of the hearings scheduled for December 26. “The people behind some of Russia’s recent outrageous acts of state criminality have long demonstrated skillful timing and an acute understanding of the news cycle, choosing the most opportune moments to carry out their malicious deeds while minimizing international attention,” he said. Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Peroff, is international counsel to the political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He writes a blog at www.robertamsterdam.com.