TODAY: Russia hits back at West on Khodorkovsky comments; judge says Gref’s testimony did little in Yukos founder’s favor; trial by jury suspiciously dismissed in Izmestiev case. Khimki official among 3 arrested for ecologist’s beating; Burnt by the Sun director accused of exploiting links with Putin. Military plane crashes; how the West sells Russia
The Kremlin has firmly rebuffed international criticisms of the Khodorkovsky verdict, saying ‘judgments about the selective application of justice in Russia are groundless’ and that the government hopes ‘that everyone will mind his own business –at home and internationally’. The Kremlin also accused the West of exerting ‘unacceptable’ pressure upon the trial, the BBC reports. Apparently Mr Khodorkovsky’s lawyers expect a verdict within a few days – thanks to judge Viktor Danilkin’s relatively rapid monotone, though as Mr Khodorkovsky’s lawyers allege, at the tycoon’s first trial, a slow reading of the verdict was strategically used to reduce public interest. Presiding judge Viktor Danilkin has said that the testimonies by Sberbank CEO German Gref and Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Khristenko for the defense only served to confirm the guilt of the Yukos founder and his business partner Platon Lebedev. The BBC has a useful round-up of the reactions from the unsurprised Russian media on the verdict.
Just a day after Prime Minister Putin suggested trial by jury should be restricted, the New York Times reports on the case of ex-senator Igor V. Izmestiev, who has received a life sentence, after the jury was dismissed under ‘questionable circumstances’. In an unexpected twist for a case that one would expect to fall by the wayside, three men suspected of the savage beating of environmental activist Konstantin Fetisov have been arrested, including one high-ranking official in the Khimki suburb. Eduard Limonov take note: Moscow police have vowed they stop all unsanctioned protests in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square on December 31.
The New York Times reports on how Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov has allegedly abused his powerful connections to promote his own political manifesto and business interests. President Medvedev has approved the creation of an International anti-corruption Academy. Mikhail Gorbachev has penned an op-ed in the Moscow Times detailing what he believes should be the Kremlin’s New Year’s resolutions.
An 36-year old Russian military cargo plane has crashed in the Tula region, killing all 12 people aboard, officials have told ITAR-TASS. President Medvedev has ordered an inquiry into the way authorities responded to the cancellation of flights at Moscow’s two major airports which left passengers stranded, hungry and angry. ‘The big issue with Russia is, you have to normalize it’: the New York Times reports on how LA-based advertising agency Adore has tackled the job of advertising Russia.
PHOTO: A film by Adore Creative helped Russia land the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. (Adore Creative)