The head of Russia’s For Human Rights organization, Lev Ponomarev, told VOA that Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment had a chilling effect on criticism by businesses of the Kremlin.
Ponomarev says Russia’s entire business community bowed to authority, served it, and filled its campaign coffers with money. He says he has seen no movements that would indicate the position of Russian business was different from that of the Kremlin.
The activist notes that many Russian businesspeople would likely share Khodorkovsky’s fate if they spoke out.
Beforehis arrest and imprisonment, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was known to havepolitical ambitions and business analysts considered Yukos finances tobe transparent.
Lev Ponomarev says Russia’s human rightscommunity will be monitoring the new trial to help protect the legalrights of the accused, who face more time in prison if convicted.
Khodorkovskyis facing a separate charge for an alleged sexual assault against aformer cellmate in 2006. The cellmate, Alexander Kuchma, slashed thebusinessman’s face reportedly out of revenge. But another inmate, DenisYurinsky, who supervised Khodorkovsky in a prison sewing shop, told theKommersant-Vlast Weekly magazine that authorities put Kuchma up to make a false charge to discredit Khodorkovsky’s parole application.