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Robert Amsterdam on Italian TV

Below is a video of Robert Amsterdam’s July 15 appearance on Italian news channel Sky TG24, speaking ahead of the visit by Giorgio Napolitano to Russia. He comments that “We ask President Napolitano to engage the Russian President on the Khodorkovsky issue. We confide in Italy and in its’ history made of battles for human rights, so that all cases of political prisoners who are imprisoned in Russia are addressed, the issue of gulags that still exist and of Khodorkovsky that is in prison in Siberia and not in the region of Moscow, close to his family. In Russia there are still massive violations of fundamental rights, such as restrictions on freedom of the press, or the unexplained killings of journalists. We hope that all these issues could be visited during this meeting.” A transcript of a longer interview on the same network follows after the cut.

Translation of Robert Amsterdam’s interview on Sky TG 24, Monday July 14th 09,40 pmIntroduction: In the next few days the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano will be in Russia for an official visit. On the eve of his departure we met the lawyer of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former tycoon of the Yukos oil giant, historic opponent of Vladimir Putin, who was arrested in 2003 and now in a Siberian prison waiting for liberty on parole. The interview is by Giovanna Pancheri, listen:Giovanna Pancheri: “Five years ago Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia, undisputed lord of oil giant Yukos, international philanthropist, one of the youngest oligarchs in Moscow with an uncomfortable passion for politics and for the free market. An opponent of Vladimir Putin who never appreciated his efforts to let international investors in the Russian energy market, in 2003 Khodorkovsky was arrested and then tried for tax evasion and fraud. Since then his ordeal began, an ordeal for served in the jails of Siberia. For his release, governments and international organizations were mobilized. His case has become a symbol of repression of political opponents, executed still today by the Kremlin. On the eve of President Giorgio Napolitano’ visit to Russia, we met his lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer who for years was not allowed to meet his client.”Robert Amsterdam: “September 23rd 2005, that night I was arrested and it was the last time I saw him”GP: Now in Russia there is a new President, Medvedev, in one of his first statements he said that he wants to restore the rule of law in Russia. What do you think?RA: “I believe that what President Medvedev said is revolutionary, I have never seen a President take office and declare that their country must restore the rule of law which clearly did not exist. I think if he examines closely the situation and will undertake the necessary reforms, without doubt Khodorkovsky will soon be a free man.”GP: “But the changing of the guard at the Kremlin might not be enough to complicate the situation there is in fact the oil price rocketing.”RA: “The energy issue is linked to the ability of Russian industries to invest abroad, and regulation of competition on an international basis. If we can strengthen the rules on competition and involve large Russian companies as Gazprom then respect for the rule of law could be better guaranteed. Khodorkovsky is a symbol of entrepreneurship and free market in Russia and until he is not free, no Italian investor can feel safe in that country.”GP: Regarding the Khodorkovsky case, Amsterdam thinks Italian silence in the past years has been deafening, but now might be the time to act.RA: “Currently there is a Prime Minister in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, who is fighting against what he defines a political justice against him and if he really wants to fight politicised justice, supporting the battle of Khodorkovsky, even in front his dear friends, Putin and Medvedev, could be a way to go. “GP: “The forthcoming visit to Moscow of President Giorgio Napolitano could also be of great importance..”RA: “During his visit we hope that President Napolitano will address the issues related to European values such as freedom, the ability to do business with safe rules and in general the issue of human rights and the fact that in the 21st century Russia must stop putting away people for their political beliefs. “GP: “Diplomatic issues aside, what is continuing is the legal battle, a battle that now has a single purpose, obtain for Khodorkovsky, who has already served half of his punishment, the liberty on parole”.RA: “In the coming days we will ask again for liberty on parole. The period in prison for Khodorkovsky has been extended until November 2nd on the basis of new charges concerning money laundering. It’s a new distortion of justice, a new denial of the right of my client to meet with his family. We will go once again before the Court to try to free this man.”