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Take a Look into Khodorkovsky’s Eyes

Kim Zigfeld has a column up on Pajamas Media exploring the issue of Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a political prisoner – taking the discussion beyond the lawyer arguments commonly found on this blog:

Allegations that the Kremlin jailed Khodorokovsky to keep him from contesting for the presidency have been widely reported. A Google search for his name yields a quarter million hits, including hundreds of articles condemning his mistreatment. But then, criminals always protest their innocence, right? Those who would defend the Kremlin’s prosecution of Khodorkovsky as an effort to struggle against Russia’s pandemic problem of corruption have received two rather jolting wakeup calls recently. First, in late August, the Supreme Court of Switzerland rejected a petition by Russian prosecutors seeking the release of bank documents relating to YUKOS executives — ostensibly for purposes of finalizing its liquidation but undoubtedly also in an effort to gather more evidence against Khodorkovsky, who faces a second round of charges and trial. The Kremlin has not been satisfied to merely jail Khodorkovsy and liquidate his firm, but has gone after many members of his executive team as well (this has even included Svetlana Bakhmina, the mother of two who served as YUKOS in-house counsel). The Swiss tribunal ruled that there were “concrete facts that lead to the inference that [Khodorkovsky] is under pursuit for hidden motives, notably in relation to his political opinions” and it refused to participate in what it saw as a fundamentally corrupt process. Then last week, the European Court for Human Rights ruled that the Kremlin’s prosecution of Khodorkovsky’s right-hand man, Platon Lebedev, violated international human rights laws, and awarded him thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. The ECHR determined that Lebedev had been held illegally without charges or bail, that he had been denied access to his attorney, that his attorney had been denied access to court proceedings, and that his appeal process had been obstructed. In a press release, Lebedev’s defense team stated: “It should be noted that this is only the first of several applications brought to the European Court by Mr. Lebedev, by Mr. Lebedev’s business partner and close friend Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and by YUKOS itself. While this petition dealt only with issues related to Mr. Lebedev’s pre-trial incarceration, other applications ask the ECHR to rule on the fairness of Mr. Lebedev’s trial and the political nature of the charges brought against him and Mr. Khodorkovsky.”

Read the complete column here.