Russian Justice is Becoming a Theatre of the Absurd

As I have mentioned in earlier statements, there are elements within the Kremlin who love to pull their biggest pranks during the holiday season. The latest evidence of this trend is the announcement of new, fabricated charges against Mikhail Khodorkovsky (which Chris Weafer of Alfa Bank has identified as a ruse to make the Yukos attack look like the legitimate crackdown at Enron), and the preposterous accusation that Leonid Nezvlin ordered the murder of ex-Russian spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. Here is Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s statement, translated from Russian:

28 December 2006 TO: THE PROCURACY-GENERAL OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FROM: Khodorkovsky M.B. APPLICATION FOR REPLACEMENT OF INVESTIGATIVE GROUP IN CRIMINAL CASE No. 18/41-03 On 27 December 2006, I, Khodorkovsky M.B., was presented with two decrees on the conducting of a preliminary investigation, from which it became known that the investigation with respect to criminal case No. 18/41-03 is being carried out by an investigative group of the Procuracy-General of the RF consisting of 17 persons. It is headed by senior investigator for particularly important cases S.K. Karimov, i.e. that same high level official who headed an analogous group in the previous criminal case with respect to me and Platon Lebedev, and had filed ungrounded charges against us. Everybody, and the members of the investigative group first and foremost, knew perfectly well that during the course of the examination of the previous criminal case, the result of which became the appointment of punishment in the form of 8 years of deprivation of freedom for each one, I was convinced to the last moment that a just verdict would be issued. During the course of the preliminary investigation, trial, and cassational consideration of the case, I cooperated actively with justice, including by way of presenting objective proof of Lebedev’s and my innocence. However, the judges simply copied the bill of indictment previously signed by Mr. S.K. Karimov, repeating all the stupid legal, and even simply grammatical, mistakes which were contained in it. Even during the course of the consideration of the case by the Meshchansky Court, in December 2004, I was informed that the Procuracy-General of the RF had initiated a criminal case based on the legalization of monetary funds. Since that time, the top leadership of the Procuracy-General of the RF has regularly reminded the public that there would in the near future be new charges filed against me and Platon Lebedev. These declarations by the Procuracy-General of the RF were voiced not only after the issuance of the verdict, but also at subsequent stages of the consideration of the given case. By the way, they were made intentionally, with a single objective – to create negative public opinion with respect not only to me and Platon Lebedev personally, but also to all our activities over many years. In these declarations, it was sometimes said that the procuracy has sufficient evidence of our guilt, at other times that it is still gathering evidence, but no charges have yet to be filed against us to the present moment. However, certain high level employees of the Administration of the President of the RF are very worried by the fact that next year, half of the term of punishment appointed for me and Platon Lebedev expires and that consequently, there exists the theoretical possibility of our early conditional release on parole. In addition to this, they all know perfectly well that elections to the State Duma will take place in 2007, while elections of the President of the RF will occur in March 2008. Consequently, these people could not allow even the possibility that I might happen to be at liberty precisely at this time. Therefore, they decided to do everything so that I would remain in confinement for as long a time as possible. Of course, my stay in the colony could have been extended in another, more “humane” way, by not granting me conditional early release before all the elections had ended. This would be very easy to do, making ever more new reprimands to me for violations of the regime supposedly committed by me. However, the power considered this method insufficiently reliable. But the filing of new charges, a new trial, and a new term significantly simplify the so called “problem of-the year 2007” for the Kremlin – Platon Lebedev’s and my conditional early release. In such a manner, I have no doubts that the new case in respect of me and Platon Lebedev, about which has been declared to us 4 days before the coming of the New Year holidays, has an exclusively political character. The Kremlin knows very well our political convictions, which do not leave place for doubt that our sympathies lie not at all on the side of the party of the “third term”. The return of Mr. S.K. Karimov from the post of deputy procurator of Bashkortostan to his old familiar Procuracy-General also without any doubt is associated with the filing of new charges. This, no doubt, is evidence of a “special trust” in him on the part of both the Procuracy-General and even higher bosses, but, naturally, does not increase my trust in him. As follows from the decrees on the creation of an investigative group that have been presented to me, Mr. Karimov was appointed its head on 4 December 2006, and he showed such enviable workplace zeal that already 2 weeks after his appointment, I was convoyed to Chita for the conducting of investigative actions in the new case. In fact, practically immediately after taking on the case, Mr. Karimov “adorned” it with a gross violation of the law (so far I know of only one thing; I would not be surprised if I soon learn about other violations as well). Thus, pursuant to Art. 152 of the CCP RF, a preliminary investigation must be carried out in the place where the crime was committed. In our case, the investigation is being conducted in the City of Moscow. Despite this, Platon Lebedev and I were for some reason convoyed not to Moscow, but to the investigative isolator of the City of Chita, where, from all appearances, they intend to hold us for a long time. I do not doubt that the new trial will end up being the same kind of farce as the previous one, just like the numerous criminal cases in respect of other YUKOS employees, in particular that of the mother of two minor children, Svetlana Bakhmina. I consider it unworthy to participate anew in this farce. I have already refused to give testimony in the capacity of a “suspect”, inasmuch as I see no sense in proving anything to people whose task is not in promoting justice by way of establishing the truth, but has a directly opposite objective. I don’t personally know all the members of the investigative group, but I allow fully that among them are decent and professional people, capable of conscientiously carrying out their duty. But, unfortunately, in my case all of them, including the head of the group, S.K. Karimov, are fated to be merely obedient executors of a political contract. Consequently, I have no grounds for counting on their sense of professional principle. In fact I do not trust the Procuracy-General of the RF as a whole, but the law does not allow me to apply for the replacement of everybody, and besides, the point is not about individual people, but about the system. In the first days of my arrest I said that I want to acheive justice specifically in Russia. I do not doubt that such a time will come, and the untenability of all the charges made against me – both old and new – will be established. Unfortunately, this will not be as soon as I would like. In connection with the above, I apply for the replacement of the entire investigative group of the Procuracy-General of the RF conducting the investigation with respect to criminal case No. 18/41-03, the membership of which was announced to me on 27 December 2006. 28 December 2006 Mikhail Khodorkovsky