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WSJ on Russian Justice

anna.jpgalex2.jpgmike.jpg From the WSJ:

Russian Justice February 7, 2007; Page A14 The wheels of justice in Vladimir Putin’s Russia move strangely, but this week all too transparently. Prosecutors brought fresh charges against Mikhail Khodorkovsky that likely ensure that the former Yukos oil magnate and Putin political opponent won’t leave his Siberian prison camp before next year’s presidential election. Nothing from his first trial suggests the outcome will be any better for Mr. Khodorkovsky once a Russian court in distant Chita, near the Mongolian border, takes up the new money laundering and embezzlement case. They could add 15 years to his prison term. Mr. Khodorkovsky’s initial conviction and eight-year sentence for tax evasion enabled the backroom nationalization of Yukos’s plumb assets. He would have been up for parole next year. No more. Would that Russian investigators were as determined in pursuing the killer of Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in her apartment building last October. Her case is unsolved. Since the murder of TV personality Vladislav Listyev in 1995, no one has been successfully prosecuted for a high-profile assassination inside Russia. Now the Kremlin is busy making it harder for United Kingdom authorities to bring to justice the murderers of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium 210 in London last November. British investigators found traces of the radioactive substance at the hotels, on the plane, even on the football stadium seat that Moscow businessman Andrei Lugovoi used during his trip there. This former KGB agent and another colleague had drinks with Litvinenko the day he was poisoned. Polonium 210 was also discovered at the bar and in a tea pot at the London hotel where they met. Such forensic evidence apparently isn’t up to Russian standards. No charges have been filed in Britain, but Russia’s chief prosecutor has already preemptively ruled out the extradition of Mr. Lugovoi to the U.K. The Russians also refused to let British police question him directly in Moscow. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to surmise that the Kremlin wants Mr. Khodorkovsky to stay in Siberia and the Politkovskaya and Litvinenko cases to remain unsolved. And so they are.