[Editor’s note: the attached original article was written by RA’s resident “Polittechnologist” in Russia, who has chosen to remain anonymous for his/her own security] Tough boys don’t like being taken for suckers: On the new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev By The Polittechnologist When I hear the lawyers saying the new charges against Mikhail Khodorkovsky are “insane” or “absurd”, I want to vehemently object: No! They’re neither insane nor absurd. They make total sense – based on the objectives of those who stand behind those who are making the charges. It is naïve to think that the Procuracy-General is playing any kind of independent role here. The Procuracy-General is, pure and simple, just a tool in the hands of certain serving FSB officers who have received unlimited access to power – and by extension, to money. Criticizing the Procuracy-General is in this case about as useful as a person who is being buried alive criticizing the shovel in the hands of the gravedigger. The shovel is expendable – if it’s not doing the job, the gravedigger will simply toss it aside and bring out a bulldozer. So, what are they after? Money and nothing else. Money that isn’t in Russia any more, but abroad. They have decided that for now, it’s easiest to go after it by using money laundering charges as their tool. If that doesn’t do the job, they’ll try charges of murder and of financing terrorism. Plenty has already been said about how powerfully such charges resonate in the West. How did they come up with the numbers? The figure is significant. On the one hand, they have just sent a signal to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev – and Leonid Nevzlin and others too – about what the “opening bid” is if these want to negotiate for their freedom and their life. On the other hand, they don’t want to miss their mark and name too small an amount and miss out on getting their hands on all the money – just in case foreign banks do give them access to the accounts. Why are the lawyers being prohibited from publicizing the actual text of the bill of indictment? Because they won’t do it the “right” way and they’ll do it too soon. The requests for international legal assistance necessary to freeze accounts abroad haven’t been submitted yet. The wording of the indictment isn’t what’s important – getting their hands on the money is. Which is why the Procuracy-General will keep on rewriting and resending legal assistance requests as many times as its masters request. And why are the lawyers not being prohibited from talking about the fact that they’re being prohibited from publicizing the text of the indictment? This is a proud display of Russia’s so-called “sovereign democracy”. You have to have at least the appearance of some kind of freedom. The lawyers are free to talk – especially such prominent ones as Karinna Moskalenko. She is known all over the world and nobody’s going to shut her mouth. But it’s just as true that pretty soon nobody is going to be listening to her any more in Russia, because hearing the same thing over and over gets boring after a while. Which will be just dandy for them – all the appearance of free speech but with no public impact whatsoever. Contrast that with Khodorkovsky’s former lawyer Genrikh Padva, who received a very polite and subtle old-fashioned KGB-style warning – the arrest of his partner – and immediately understood the message and never again uttered a word publicly about his former client. Why were the lawyers who flew out from Moscow to Chita on January 4th detained at the airport, but those who flew out on the 5th weren’t? Because everything that needed to be learned was already learned on the 4th (see my previous instalment). Why did they bring in all those extra police to Chita? Think of it as training exercises. The local authorities get to demonstrate their loyalty, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs its efficiency. The Chekists always take pleasure in seeing this kind of sycophantic grovelling, and the cops get a chance to come out and play with all their cool toys. As I’m sure you realize, all that’s going on in Chita has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with justice. To put it in Russian underworld slang, it all boils down to this: the “tough boys” have just put an even bigger squeeze on a “merchant” who still hasn’t gotten the message even when they were polite enough to send it a second time. Only now they want even more, because our “boys” don’t like it when someone takes them for suckers. All the rest is just PR and window decoration. The only thing that still gives some reason for hope is that these petty crooks are really just a bunch of cowards. But more about that in my next instalment. Right now I’d better stop or my wife will leave me.