The Khamovnichesky Court Circus

The following is an exclusive translation from Novaya Gazeta, published on Monday, describing the pandemonium and absurdity which occurred during the Khodorkovsky trial on days 35-38.

“Your honor, why is the public laughing?”

Significant changes took place over the past week at the trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev: the judge became strict towards the procurators

Day thirty-five

…A tense situation developed in the Khamovnichesky Court on Monday [15 June] — the procurators, despite a demand from the judge, refused to disclose the origin of one of the pieces of evidence.

The incident occurred just before evening, when the discussion turned to the law firm of “ALM-Feldmans and partners,” which in the past had serviced the interests of YUKOS. In order to underscore the principality of the moment, it’s worth it to remind: the only reason for the transfer of the second case to the Khamovnichesky Court — the fact that “ALM-Feldmans” is found precisely in the jurisdiction of this court. Practically all the employees of this firm have been declared wanted. Still in the time of the first trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, multitudinous searches and seizures of documents (including confidential ones) were carried out in “ALM-Feldmans” without the sanction of a court and observance of any guarantees of lawyers’ activity whatsoever [i.e. attorney-client privilege–Trans.].


Sketch of the trial by artist Boris Zhutovsky, posted to Novaya Gazeta. 1. The defendants — Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in a cell behind glass. The glass reflects the windows of the hall, therefore you can’t see the guys. They interact with the defense through a little black door. 2. A little soldier/security guard. 3. The judge in black robe, wearing glasses. A boring little judge! 4. Little doors from which the judge comes out. And everybody stands up. 5. The Procuratorial Team. Piles and piles of little papers on the table. We read for hours at a time. The one in the middle does the reading. The two on the sides keep silent. 6. Bailiff-soldier. With a telephone and in a vest.

The procurators read out the case materials concerning this law firmlike they were some kind of detective novel: slowly, highlighting thekey points, with a hint of mystery in the voice.

Although, it must besaid, there wasn’t anything all that unusual in the actual documents:from them it followed, for example, that Pavel Ivlev had been a lawyer.

— Here is what this signifies… — procurator Lakhtin repeated yet againfor some, — that Ivlev had worked in the law firm of «Feldmans andpartners». And that is what this signifies…
The hall began to laugh. Which did not impede the state prosecutionfrom recounting exactly the same thing about other employees of thefirm as well in the same kind of tragic voice. And when Lakhtin readout several contracts for the rendering of legal assistance, enteredinto between YUKOS and the firm, that’s when the scandal occurred.

— Your honor, we demand explanations, on what grounds documents thatare the object of a lawyer’s secret [attorney-client privilege]included in the materials of the criminal case? — asked the lawyerNatalia Terekhova.

The procurators attempted not to notice the question, but after theyhad read out a «personal [bank] account statement» of “ALM Feldmans,”absent in the case materials, even the judge could not endure it:

— Just what are you reading, once and for all — a document or your opinion in this regard?

— asked judge Viktor Danilkin.

— Um… This was my summary…

— What does that mean, «summary»? Can you explain where you werefollowing the document, and where your words, your comments were? — thejudge expressed interest most sharply.

— Go on, keep on reading… — procurator Ibragimova advised procurator Lakhtin in a whisper.

— What’s that supposed to mean, «keep on reading»?! — Viktor Danilkin burst out angrily.

— We haven’t yet sorted out…

— Your honor, — answered Ibragimova, — I’m saying that… because how the public…is laughing! And you’re not reacting.

— Well let ’em laugh! If the convoy [Khodorkovsky’s guards–Trans.] deems it necessary, it will stop them.

In the end, the procurators were unable to explain where this documentcame from, and requested a recess. But even the recess didn’t help. Asif though forgetting about the scandal, Lakhtin announced that he wasmoving on to the reading out of the next volume, 72, skipping over 70and 71.

— That is, the question remains without an answer? — the judge marvelled.
They did not answer him.

Day thirty-six

A series of paradoxes floated to the surface. All of the financialreports of the company being read out by the procurators concerned theyears 2003–2004. But then Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were already foundin detention, and this means they simply physically could not negotiateany transactions. However this paradox was not explained.

Looking no less remarkable was the interpretation by procurator Lahtinof the audit report of the company «PricewaterhouseCoopers» in relationto the financial activity of one of the subsidiary Cypriot companies ofYUKOS. On one page of the report was said that «the company conductsfinancial reporting correctly», however on the next page — just theopposite. «The company has a negative balance and causes loss to itsparent company — YUKOS»… Which of the conclusions can be believed — theprosecutor did not clarify.

— If «Pricewaterhouse» were to hear this translation of the document,it would withdraw its report back, — the lawyer Krasnov couldn’t resistin the course of the reading. — The price of the shares comprises not1.5 thousand dollars each, as the procurator has read out, but 1 dollar!

At the end of the day, Mikhail Khodorkovsky gave an assessment to the «researching of evidence» taking place in the court:

— If we’re talking about the transfer of rights to oil within YUKOS,then there are tonnes of such documents. Rights were transferred, andintra-corporate prices were applied, while the oil went through a pipe,as a rule, direct — to the consumer through the state’s pipe of«Transneft». It would be enough to question your choice of Putin, orSechin, or Kudrin, or Khristenko — each of them knows this. Ask theprosecutors to say, do they have evidence that the oil was seized fromthe pipe of the victim or from «Transneft’s» pipe, into which thevictim had surrendered it. If there is no such evidence, and thereisn’t, judging by the text of the bill of indictment, — perhaps we’llstop wasting time and the state’s money?

Day thirty-seven

— …I don’t want any of your explanations! Just say yet again, which volumes!!!
Viktor Danilkin was yelling. For the first time. At procuratorGo’lchehra Ibragimova. He gave the procurators five minutes for them tosort themselves out with volume No. 70, in which they had totally andcompletely entangled. But the procurators wasted the recess for naught,when it ended Go’lchehra Ibragimova announced that the next volumeswould be read out.

— …Why didn’t you say so in the first place?! — the judge was irritatedand announced yet another recess, in order to prepare himself.

Ibragimova once again immersed herself in the reading. On each volumeof the case she spent less than a minute. She simply enumerated thenames of documents contained in them and returned [them] to the judgewith the parting words: “So there would be no remarks by the opponents,I propose to you to take a look at the volume yourself and consider itfully read out.”

The defense and the defendants were shocked by such an approach. It appeared that the judge was — too.

— It is impossible to consider that which was not read out to have beenread out! — the lawyer Alexey Miroshnichenko was outraged.

But the judge kept silent and sullenly said to the procurators: “Continue.” Soon a gloom was cast over the mood of the you-would-thinkrejoicing procurators by the lawyer Konstantin Rivkin. “A uniquesituation, — he was saying — took place with volume 77, read out byprocurator Ibragimova. This volume was recognized by the IngodinskyDistrict Court of Chita as faulty from the point of view of the qualityof the documents contained in it. In connection with this theinvestigation made a new copy of this volume and gave it the number169. And having on hand the good-quality volume, the procurators haveread out the faulty 77. A paradox.”

Procurator Shokhin answered with yet another paradox: «TheConstitution, providing for equality of arms, allows us to behave thus».

Day thirty-eight

…The whole day, the procuracy was reading out contracts for thepurchase-sale of oil, as well as statements of receipt-transfer of thatsame oil from the seller to the purchaser. And the whole day, thedefense was catching procurator Lakhtin omitting entire items, notindicating the prices of the acquired oil, making the financial pictureof the transactions outlandish. … But if Lakhtin gave the remarks ahostile reception, then Valentina Kovalikhina, to whom the baton waspassed towards the end of the day, admitted her mistakes.

— An absolutely fair remark, — she agreed.

— Valentina Mikhailovna, why don’t we go through this here item onemore time, something wasn’t quite right there… — asked her PlatonLebedev. And she would go through it again. The trial began to acquirefeatures of respect of accusers and defendants for one another that hadbeen so lacking in it. But, as bad luck would have it, the session thisday was short — Friday…

Lebedev only had time to declare that the state in the person ofRosimushchestvo [the State Property Committee of the RussianFederation–Trans.] is not the rightful victim and its representativemust be removed from participation in the trial, because the shares inthe subsidiary companies of the company VNK, of the embezzlement ofwhich they are accusing him and Khodorkovsky, were found in theownership specifically of VNK, and not of the state, and, consequently,no harm to the state could have been caused.

— The recognition of Rosimushchestvo as a victim, — added Khodorkovsky,– is either a deliberate falsification, or — so as not to curse, I’llmake use of a phrase from the charge — «evidence of the extremelimitedness of the person who signed it»…

Vera Chelishcheva