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The Subtext of the Khodorkovsky Trial

Yuri Schmidt and Robert Amsterdam are quoted in this Moscow News article about the upcoming second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky:

“I understand the subtext that journalists are putting into this,” Kho­dorkovsky’s lawyer Yury Shmidt said by telephone, referring to the belief that the trip to Moscow may be a positive political signal. “But I don’t see any special influence from President Dmitry Medvedev and his team in this decision. It is a normal, lawful decision. It is evidence that somewhere at the top they have understood that there must be some limits in this persecution.”

He added that while he did not see any “clever game” in the decision to try Khodorkovsky in Moscow, it was clear that “Medvedev does not need this case.”

Robert Amsterdam, a Canadian lawyer who represented Khodorkovsky in hisfirst trial, saw the move to hold the trial in Moscow as a positivesign. “I think that allowing Khodorkovsky to face the prosecutors andpolitical figures who have put him in this position is a very importantstep and should be welcomed,” he said.

But Amsterdam said it was wrong to speculate on any political motivations behind the decision.

Other experts suggested that the move did have political significance,but underlined that great care should be taken in interpreting suchpolitical motivations. Khodorkovsky’s second trial “might mean that thesiloviki are trying to bolster their positions in society as the crisisgains momentum and show who’s boss,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, president ofthe Mercator think tank. “But the fact that they’ve decided to hold thetrial in Moscow signals that there are influential people in thegovernment that do not want for the trial to end the same way it didlast time.”