Vengeance to the end


Former YUKOS Vice-President Vasily Aleksanian was on Thursday again brought to the preliminary court hearing into his case despite very ill-health and high blood pressure. The radio station Echo Moskvy reports that he told journalists in the courtroom that he is also suffering from cancer of the lymph glands.

Yesterday Mr Aleksanian fell ill during the hearing and an ambulance had to be called. Before the hearing he had stated that he objected to being brought to the court and signed the relevant document to this effect. “Yet I was brought here against my will. This is unlawful”, Aleksanian said, adding that he intended to lodge a complaint.

Aleksanian stressed that all charges against him are trumped up.  “It’s pure cold-blooded murder. I never took part in the events they’re accusing me of”.

Mr Aleksanian is being held in an infectious diseases unit of the remand centre.

He needs treatment in a specialized clinic.

This is demanded by Russian legislation, in repeated calls from the European Court of Human Rights and the imperative to show mercy.

In a statement issued today, prominent Russian human rights defenders stress that it is the Kremlin which must now answer for Vasily Aleksanian’s life.

They say that it has become clear that the authorities have tried to blackmail Aleksanian, making his transfer to a specialized hospital contingent upon his agreeing to give evidence against Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The human rights defenders point out that there can be no question that President Putin is not aware of this situation.  Both the Human Rights Ombudsperson Vladimir Lukin and the Chair of the Presidential Human Rights Commission Ella Pamfilova have made official approaches to the Prosecutor General and the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences.

“This time Putin will hardly be able to claim he couldn’t get through to the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Justice and the others responsible for resolving this issue.  There is a directive from the European Court of Human Rights calling for Aleksanian to be placed without delay into a civic hospital.

We demand an immediate enquiry into the statements made both by Aleksanian and Khodorkovsky that the investigators have tried to extract confessions, effectively blackmail Aleksanian with his very life.

We would ask Mikhail Borisovych Khodorkovsky to suspend his selfless demonstration of solidarity and to not under any circumstances maintain a hunger strike.  We take upon ourselves the obligation to gain Aleksanian’s release and to bring those destroying him to justice.

Liudmila Alexeyeva, Chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group;

Sergei Kovalev, Human Rights Institute

Lev Ponomaryov, Lyubov Bashinova, Yevgeny Ikhlov, the civic movement “For Human Rights”

Yury Samodurov, Director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre

Priest Gleb Yakunin, Freedom of Conscience Protection Committee

Yulia Bashinova, Youth Human Rights Movement

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