The Khodorkovsky-Lebedev trial must be stopped immediately!


In the center of Moscow – the capital of a European state, considering itself law-based and democratic, right beside a square that even bears the name Evropeiskaya [European], there is a trial going on that is reminiscent in its absurdity and anti-legal nature of both the novels of Franz Kafka and the sinister practice of totalitarian dictatorships at once. This is already the second trial of the former heads of the huge oil company YUKOS, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, who have been jailed since 2003. Even back then, right after the arrest, declarations were made both in Russia and abroad about the numerous and gross violations of the law in their case, starting with the unfounded selection of a measure of restraint. The new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are the masterpieces of legal absurdity, a reminder of the Stalinist manner of intimidating society: dragging your victims into court a second time – with even heavier charges.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the US Congress, the Swiss Federal Tribunal and human rights observers from the European Union have clearly and unambiguously characterized the Khodorkovsky-Lebedev trial as unfair, biased, and politically motivated, while violations of Platon Lebedev’s rights have been confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights.

The unprecedented nature of the trial has led to a determination to place it under public monitoring.

An International Committee for the Protection of Russian Political Prisoners was founded in May of 2008. Its members included L.M. Alexeeva (Moscow Helsinki Group); S.A. Gannushkina («Civil assistance» Committee; S. A. Kovalev (A. Sakharov Foundation); L.A. Ponomarev (the All-Russia Public Movement «For human rights»); Yu.A. Ryzhov, academician, Russian Academy of Sciences; Yu.V. Samodurov, co-chairman, All-Russian Civic congress; A.K. Simonov (Glasnost Defense Foundation); E.I. Cherny, secretary, Public committee for the defense of scientists; G.P. Yakunin (Public committee for the defense of freedom of conscience); Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic; Rudolf Bindig, honorary member of the PACE, former Bundestag deputy. The international committee immediately appealed to newly-elected President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev with a call to pardon a large number of Russian political prisoners, including Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, Alexanyan and Bakhmina. However, a response from the head of state did not follow.

In March of 2009, the International Committee in Defense of Russian Political Prisoners came out with an appeal to Russian society. In it was said: «Evil loves silence and secrecy. We are convinced that Russian society must take this trial under its monitoring, keep a constant watch after it, support the requirements of observing the rights of the accused. We call [on Russian society] to digress a bit from very important business, and definitely attend the court sessions, note all the obvious instances of violation of the rights of the defendants and the defense, openly express its attitude towards the trial».

Public monitoring of the trial in the Khodorkovsky-Lebedev case has been going on for three months already. The court sessions have been attended by several dozen prominent public and political figures, scientists, writers, cultural figures, political scientists, representatives of business, jurists, economists, and journalists. Some of their testimonials have been attached to our appeal, so that everyone can be assured that our conclusions about the essence of what is taking place are well-founded.

Observers note that the evidence being read out into the record by the party of the prosecution is being cited incompletely, fragmentarily, is often distorted, is read in succession without clarifies to which episode of the “criminal activity of the organized group” it relates, and this is being done in order to «make the trial boring, mire it in bureaucracy, and render it meaningless».

While each of the participants of the monitoring gave an assessment of what they saw in their own way, their general assessment of the trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is practically identical: “a theater of the absurd”, “a trial of the absurd in the spirit of Kafka”, “a circus”, “marasmus”, “a mockery”, “a disgrace”, “idiocy”, “phantasmagoria”, “a beautifully decorated profanation”, “extra-legal arbitrariness”, “the nightmarish surrealism of what is taking place”, “the striptease and agony of the ruling cleptocracy”, “servile law”.

The principal conclusions that the eyewitnesses drew:

1.              The trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is a landmark event, it is of immense importance for the future of our country.

2.              The trial bears an absurd character - an appearance of justice is being created in the complete absence thereof.

3.              The contract character of the trial and the predetermined nature of its results is distinctly discerned.

4.              Adversariality of the process is absent. The accuseds and their lawyers are restricted in the exercise of the right to a defense.

5.              The untenability and incomprehensibility of the charge and of the evidence presented by the prosecutors, the unpreparedness of the prosecutors for the.

6.              The unethical behavior of the state prosecutors.

We are convinced that the criminal prosecution of Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which has turned into a shameful parody of justice, must be stopped at the initiative of the state itself, and the defendants - immediately released, inasmuch as they have already served more than half their sentence on the first conviction and have the right to count on conditional early release on parole.

The scriptwriters and directors of this frame-up trial have already tainted themselves with indelible shame. But now both they and Russia should know – their shame is going to become the shame of the whole country as well. They will not be able to cover up what is taking place. The organizers of the trial should understand this too, and their behind-the-scenes protectors, as well as those government officials with whose hands all this is being carried out.

We call upon not only Russian society, but also representatives of international human rights organizations, political parties and organizations, and representatives of the diplomatic missions of democratic countries to attend the Khodorkovsky-Lebedev trial. The whole world ought to clearly see the price for justice in Russia. Perhaps this will force both the state and society to come to its senses.    

We consider that Russian and international society must let the powers of the Russian Federation understand in no uncertain terms that a new conviction for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will put them outside the circle of rule-of-law states.    


Behind every word in this appeal – the testimony of eyewitnesses.

We offer several comments from those who have seen “Khamovnichesky justice” with their own eyes.

Ludmilla Alexeeva, chairwoman, Moscow Helsinki Group;

Foundation «In defense of the rights of prisoners»

Valeriy Borshev, Moscow Helsinki Group;

Ernst Cherny, Secretary of the Public Committee in Defence of Scientists;

Vitaly Ginzburg, academician, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nobel Prize Winner;

Sergei Davidis, Union of Solidarity with political prisoners;

Lev Ponomarev, executive director, All-Russia Public Movement «For human rights»

Yuri Ryzhov, academician, Russian Academy of Sciences,

chairman of the Public committee for the defense of scientists;

Yuriy Samodurov, co-chairman of the All-Russian Civic Congress;

Alexey Simonov, president of the Glasnost Defense Foundation;

Gleb Yakunin, Committee in Defence of Freedom of Conscience.

Ludmilla Alexeeva, chairwoman, Moscow Helsinki group; chairwoman, Foundation «In defense of the rights of prisoners»: “No matter how hard the powers try to create the appearance of justice, its complete absence is obvious. Before the prosecution stands an absolutely clear-cut task – to lock the former heads of «YUKOS» up in jail for another couple of decades. And the prosecutors are doggedly attaining this goal, any rules notwithstanding. All this looks like a theater, in which bad actors are playing a badly produced play in the courtroom… All that is had in the bill of indictment – this is merely the desired legal assessment of the business activity of a company. An actual description of the supposedly committed criminal act, without which a trial is impossible from the point of view of criminal law, is completely absent… Furthermore, the party of the prosecution is convinced that the defendants and the defense do not and can not have the right to challenge or prove anything at all. From the words of prosecutor Lakhtin it came out that “a defendant can express his attitude towards a charge that has been brought only during the giving of testimony in the course of the judicial investigation, while the party of the defense can express itself in detail only in final submissions”. It even got to the point where the state prosecutors, feeling no shame before the public present in the courtroom, declared for all to hear: “Khodorkovsky’s opinion does not interest anyone, other than him himself and his lawyers”…Here is the kind of justice we have, the kind of adversarial process, the kind of democracy, the kind of rule of law”. (20.04..2009,Second letter from court, MHG)

Boris Akunin (Grigory Chkhartishvili), writer: “All of us are now witnesses to an historical event - it is really not Khodorkovsky who is on trial, it is - our justice that is on trial. It now has a chance for rehabilitation… Depending on how this trial goes and how it ends, the entire history of our society’s life is going to turn in one direction or another. Either this will be an absolute discreditation, a final grinding of the remnants of justice into the dust, or this will be some kind of new start, there will be some kind of rebirth”. (21.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Natella Boltyanskaya, singer-songwriter: “…it seems to me that there is such a moment as a ‘threshold of acceptability’… And I am very concerned in this regard for judge Danilkin. If a person in the name of the state is intending to hold court, then he must have the opportunity to assess the arguments, but in such a torrent of monotonous reading, it seems to me, he is not capable of assessing this… Of course, I very much want to live to see the day when the organizers of this trial are on trial themselves”. (19.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Marie Luise Beck, German Bundestag deputy:  “Given that Russia is a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, it is simply obligated to comply with generally-accepted European norms. This is why it is very important for Russia how it will look in the eyes of the European community, to what extent it will show itself to be a democratic state, how democratically it will conduct this trial”. (27.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Svetlana Gannushkina, chairwoman of the «Civil assistance» Committee and member of the Council under the President of the RF for Assisting the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Institutions: “…The judicial system is turning into an institution of the theater of the absurd, and this concerns not only this case, but a multitude of other cases, when the judicial system this is not an independent branch of power, but a certain executor of somebody’s, unfortunately, evil will…. This whole system is calculated also to degrade the person. This is sad and tragic not only for these two people, but for all of us as well. Because we are turning out to be not in a position to counteract this”. (14.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Leonid Gozman,co-chairman of the Right Cause party: “I am not a lawyer and not an economist, therefore I can not judge about the groundedness of the charges that have been brought, but it seems to me that this is at the very least selective application of the law. And that means – this is an illegal act. I had already from the first trial formulated such a point of view that both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, and other YUKOS employees are locked up not on those charges that have been brought against them. That is from the point of view of the powers, their guilt consists of something else. Of something unnamed, about which there is much talk, but inasmuch as it is not named, it is also not brought as a charge in court…I am astounded by the level of the state prosecution. When a person confuses rubles with dollars, talking about an economic crime with which he is charging the defendants, this is already somehow, in my opinion, beyond the pale of good and evil…ah”. (18.06.2008, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Lev Gudkov, head of Yuri Levada’s Analytical center «Levada-Centre»: “…The retorts [of the prosecutors] sooner made a negative impression with their rather boorish tone and incomprehension of the essence of the case. They are mixing up criminal and civil law, do not know the articles of the codes accurately, serving up retorts, they do not get up from their seats. The character of the falsifications, forgeries, incompetence of the charge and the prosecutors came through extremely clearly. They are obviously falsifying the very essence of judicial procedure – the establishing of the truth in a case…With all the apparent absurdity of the case — and it is falling apart in front of the eyes, — if the judge were completely independent, then today he should have issued a decree on dismissal of the case. But this is not taking place. Therefore the impression is being created that he is conducting a contract trial and understands this himself”. (23.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Mikhail Delyagin, economist, president of the Institute of problems of globalization: “Bearing witness to the spiritual vulnerability and deficiency of the people insolently accusing the defendants of stealing nearly three quarters of the annual production of Russian oil and of financial machinations on a non-existent island of ‘Giblartar’ are the accusations to the address of the people who have come to the trial. They have called these people “fringe elements” and “fans”, “allowing themselves retorts incomprehensible to anybody”. By the way, this is in fact, considering the level of culture demonstrated by the prosecutors, easy to believe. Now the main accusations consisted of [the contention] that they dare to comment on what is taking place and in general to express their opinion beyond the confines of the courtroom – including even, oh horrors, to representatives of the mass information media! (30.04.2009«Yezhednevny journal»). “…Such a feeling that the prosecutors sincerely do not get how some kind of law might be written for them. It is not written only for the defenders, for the defendants and for everybody else…I think that inasmuch as jurisprudence in our country remains Putinite, they will issue the kind of verdict that is supposed to be issued. But the bill of indictment is plainly delirious…But in our country this is considered normal. Because if representatives of the power appear with the charge, then there is no way out here...” (29.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Boris Dubin, philologist, translator, sociologist, head of the socio-political research section of the «Levada-Centre»: “..The party of the prosecution is obviously citing fragments of documents, is citing them not fully, is citing them cursorily, but the main thing [being], not paying attention to the content of the document, purely formally enumerating some kind of features of the documents. The party of the defense is constantly indicating at the fact that the documents are being cited either erroneously, or their excerpts are being read out, which do not give a notion about their character…”. (08.06.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Dmitry Zimin, honorary president and founder of the company «Vimpelkom», founder of the family charitable foundation «Dinastiya»: “…I did not stay to listen to the prosecutor. From an informational point of view – this is useless. From an emotional point of view – everything is clear anyway… The horror of what is taking place is in the fact that it is all becoming some kind of routine, where the participants and their roles are known in advance”. (16.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Garry Kasparov, ex-champion of the world in chess, politician, leader of the "Solidarity" Movement: “Even the vivid sketches of Shenderovich are incapable of conveying the whole nightmarish surrealism of what is taking place. Better to see it with your own eyes…Why is the power afraid of debates? Why is the power afraid of an open, adversarial trial process? Because there is nothing to say. And the main thing [is that] they can not even get their own thoughts across. If this were not a tragedy, this, of course, would be funny. But this is a tragedy, and in it is reflected all the defects of the current system – incompetence, cowardice, closedness…” (29.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Sergey Kovalev, president of the Institute of human rights, former political prisoner: “This is a knowingly political trial… There is a meta-task — to lock [them] up, to issue a guilty verdict…In my time, a certain logic was discernible in the speech of prosecutors, a very flawed, boorish logic, but you could hear the following: here he is being charged with this-and-this for such-and-such a reason. But here I heard simply judicial anti-speeches. An assertion, evidence of which the documents being read into the record were supposed to have been, was not contained. But if there is no assertion, why is something being read? Simply nothing was pronounced out loud. There is no court. There is no justice. This is servile law”. (29.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Alexey Kondaurov, KGB major-general (ret.), State Duma of the RF deputy from the CPRF:  “In general, the trial could be stopped already at this stage… If they were private persons, then godspeed to them, but they are representatives of the state. In fact, personal disgrace falls like a shadow on the whole Russian Federation, on the whole legal system of the RF. This is shameful not only inside the country, it is shameful abroad. We are not savages, but we look like legal savages” (23.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)... “As Karinna Moskalenko rightly said, they have in fact deprived the party of the defense of the right to take part in the researching of evidence at this stage… Adversariality of the parties has gone from the trial irrevocably… Earlier, Ms. Ibragimova, not getting up from her seat, would give an indication to the judge or demand something from the court. Now she gets up a little bit, but with arms folded on the uniform. This manner is simply disrespect for the court. And she teaches the court and the lawyers in a didactic tone how to behave themselves in the trial. For me, everything that she does, this is total legal vulgarity. Not only does the judge not react to this in any way, he satisfies all the objections of the party of the prosecution. The impression is created that not the judge, but Ms. Ibragimova is going to be issuing the verdict, that the last word will be hers” (27.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Eduard Limonov, writer, political essayist, chairman of the outlawed National-Bolshevik Party (NBP).: “A sad impression. Everything is done so as to discredit the trial, so that people would tire. The prosecutors drone on, specially speak in not-loud voices. Absolutely all the papers from start to finish are read into the record, attention is not drawn to anything, conclusions are not drawn, it is completely incomprehensible where the accusation part is here. The elaboration of evidence is replaced by the volume of tedium read, kilometers of tedium…Both society and the defendants are taken by attrition…» (12.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Markus Meckel, German Bundestag deputy from the Social-democratic party: “This trial is very important, and that this is an indicator of how much mister president Medvedev will actually keep his word that the justice system must become independent, must become fair… That path on which the prosecution is going now seems absurd to me. When charges are read into the record during the course of weeks, even months, while the party of the defense does not have the opportunity to object anything, to counter with anything. (08.06.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Vladimir Milov, politician, economist, president of the Institute of energy policy, ex-deputy Minister of energy of the RF: “Considering that Khodorkovsky – this is indeed a personal political rival of Putin’s, to release him will signify throwing a direct challenge to Putin. Besides this, those people who run Russia today, this is all just cowards. They are pathologically afraid of political competition…For now I do not see a determination to stop this absurdity”. (18.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of «Novaya gazeta»:  “I do not understand why the prosecution does not respect the High court. After all, in accordance with the Constitution, our legislation we have an adversarial, open trial in our country, but instead of this two prosecutresses read materials from the bill of indictment that concern contracts in monotonous voices that absolutely nobody in the courtroom can hear… This is read like that especially, so that people would not hear. So that people would die. Several flies died while I was there. I express condolences to them. This is no way to behave in an open trial and no way to treat a judge…”.. (12.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Boris Nadezhdin, member of the Federal political council of the “Right Cause” party:  “…What I have seen here has exceeded my perceptions of what can and what absolutely can not be in jurisprudence. The position of the prosecutor looks like this: any transfer of property from one person to another, inasmuch as civil[-law] rights are changed, – this is theft…Any transfer of money by a commercial structure to another commercial structure – this is legalization…. They are declaring any payout of money from an organization to its employees to be legalization, be it wages, bonuses, dividends… In the prosecutor’s office’s logic, absolutely any organization where there are bosses and subordinates, — this is an organized criminal group of persons. This is simply some kind of paranoia, what the prosecution is saying. I have the complete feeling that, from the point of view of the prosecutor’s office, the entire market economy — this is nothing but one huge theft, embezzlement and legalization. It is just that the bosses have already given the command to lock up one group of “criminals” hiding behind the guise of businessmen, but not yet others…”. (10.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Boris Nemtsov, politician, co-chairman of the «Solidarity» Movement: “This is a mockery of Misha, and of Platon, and of Russia, and of the Constitution, and of justice. It is obvious that here is not a court, but a theater of the absurd. I was at the sessions - this is an outrage’. (04.06.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center). «..Depressing. An incomprehensibly jabbering prosecutor by the name of Lakhtin, a judge who plainly can not hear a thing, just like everybody else around… This could be funny, but this is a tragic story, this is not justice. Simply a nightmare. I have not been present at undertakings of such a kind for a long time, I am found in shock. This is supposed to be the masterpiece of Putinite justice, after all. But this masterpiece is a marasmus… Nothing is decided here in this building. I think that what is taking place here is an encounter with Khodorkovsky and with Putinite Basmanny justice. The decisions are adopted in two buildings. One is found on the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment 2, and the second is found on Red Square”. (18.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Dmitry Oreshkin, director of the “Mercator” analytical center political scientist: “…When I hear the prosecution evidence, I understand that these documents prove that YUKOS truly did conduct very active, very diverse, aggressive economic activity…What I am hearing as evidence of criminal activity, I am 105% confident that exactly the same kind of papers are lying in any office of any oil or gas corporation functioning in Russia. This is ordinary, normal activity… So for now I simply can not catch the logic of the charge, correspondingly I can not understand the logic of the defense, because it is not clear from what to defend oneself”. (04.06.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Alexander Osovtsov, member of the buro of the OGF [United Civic Front]:  “Nothing depended neither in the first, nor in the second trial, neither on the prosecutors, nor on the lawyers, nor on the judges. The address where the decisions are adopted has changed just a bit. Insofar as it seems to me, it has changed”. (18.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Leonid Parfenov, famous journalist, television presenter: “We as citizens of our country who were not born yesterday and know the orders and customs understand that this is a pre-decided trial as it were. We would not like very much to be absolutely confident of this, but, alas, somehow reality does not give any other symptoms. The only symptom that was some kind of weak sign — that the case is being heard in Moscow after all, and not in Chita or someplace else. But this is a weak hope for an impartial court session. It seems to me, once again basing myself only on what experience I and every other citizen of Russia have had, that, alas, the decision is pre-decided — here, he needs to be locked up, therefore there needs to be a new sentence”. (15.06.2009, Khodorkovsky-Lebedev Communications Center)

Andrey Piontkovsky, political scientist, political essayist: “…The prosecutors, accustomed to complete impunity, never expected that the trial would take just such a course. They obviously feel themselves not in their milieu when, to the laughter and applause of the hall before the eyes of Russian and world mass information media, the accuseds and the defense leave no stone unturned in their cookie-cutter forgeries”. (07.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the All-Russia Public Movement «For human rights», dep. chairman of the management board of the Foundation «In defense of the rights of prisoners»: “…I attended the trial of the absurd in the spirit of Kafka…From my point of view this disgraceful case must be stopped without delay… Sometimes one needs to interfere. There are such situations. When they are falsifying the charge, when the judicial process itself bears a character shameful for the country…I call upon the jurist Medvedev to attend this trial one time. Let him come. This will not be interference in the judicial system, let him simply come and listen. That is enough. He will understand what is going on, just like I understood today”. (08.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Henry Reznik, president of the Chamber of lawyers of Moscow, member of the Public chamber of the RF: «…now I am asking as a taxpayer - what is the point of this repeat trial of Khodorkovsky? He was sentenced to 8 years of deprivation of liberty… For what? For stealing, for not paying taxes - this is an economic crime. What are they imputing to him again? They are imputing the same economic crime to him, filled with a somewhat different sense. What do they want? To confiscate property? It will not happen, because during the time of the commission of these actions, which are being imputed to his guilt, there was no norm about confiscation, it was introduced only in the year 2007. Restitution of harm? This too will not happen. On what is taxpayers’ money – I did some calculations, it turns out to be tens of millions – being spent. For what? So as to increase the term for Khodorkovsky by another 5 years, and so that his pursuers could feel their sense of revenge satisfied?”. (27.04.2009, Radio station «Echo Moskvy») 

Arseny Roginsky, chairman of the Memorial human rights society, historian:  “It seems to me that the prosecution is pursuing only one task — to make the trial boring, to mire it in bureaucracy. All these reports and charters they are endlessly reading are called upon not to clarify the essence of the case, but the task of this reading is the opposite – to render all that is taking place meaningless. So it would get boring for everybody, so that society would stop being interested in this trial...”. (28.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Vladimir Ryzhkov, independent politician, political essayist: “…As a person who heard all this with a fresh ear, I understood that the charge is standing on sand and is untenable… The objective of those who were the initiator of the case, — to detain Khodorkovsky and Lebedev behind bars. After all, their terms of release are approaching. Apparently, in order to rule out their exit from jail is why the second case became necessary. I hope that the judge will have enough courage to issue the right verdict… This is a landmark case. And on judge Danilkin lies responsibility not only for this case, but for the entire judicial system as a whole”. (21.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Yuri Ryzhov, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chairman of the Public committee for the defense of scientists, chairman of the Russian Pugwash committee, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ambassador of the RF in France (1992-1999)): “..And so I decided to go and see it live, maybe everything is not so barbaric.  But I came and became convinced that the great Franz Kafka is definitely ‘resting’ in comparison with what is going on here. Everything that they write – is too soft in comparison with what I saw. The trial is selective, it, of course, is political. It happens because our current premier did not like him. He did not like him at all. But the trial itself, of course, is absurd… I do not expect anything good from the trial itself. This circus, perhaps, will last another year”. (16.06.2009, Khodorkovsky-Lebedev Communications Center)

Yuriy Samodurov, co-chairman of the All-Russian Civic Congress: “Literally after 10 minutes of sitting in the courtroom I had a feeling that there was a civil war in the country; that it is civil war that is going on in the Courtroom, but it isn’t the war we used to imagine or the war which is shown in movies. This war is in the form of trial, under the guise of justice, where defendants Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev, their lawyers and supporters are on the one side, and prosecutors, guards with arms and, perhaps, the judge himself are on the other side. Actions of the judge are incomprehensible: he is either listening to prosecutors or sleeping. But my feeling of war which has arisen after 10 minutes of the beginning of the Court sitting is the strongest. I didn’t have such feeling at the first trial of Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev”. 

Alexey Simonov, president of the Glasnost Defense Foundation: “A huge quantity of people, money, time is being spent on what is after all an absolutely senseless case. Because the prosecutors do not have the task to explain something, because you can not explain, droning on in such a way that even you do not understand what you are talking about. Although this is all set up insanely richly: two people with machine guns at the ready, another five people in uniform…I think that what is taking place is a very beautifully decorated profanation” (13.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Ivan Starikov, member of the federal council of the “Solidarity” Movement: “It is obvious that in the content sense the party of the prosecution simply has nothing to say. This is why the historical mission now lies on judge Danilkin. Before him is a serious choice – either to enter into history and fully acquit Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in the second case, or do what they are demanding of him and add them a term”. (29.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center)

Viktor Shenderovich, writer, political essayist: “A most strong feeling. I knew that the charge was phony, but I, of course, did not suppose that this is phony to such an extent… If one were to broadcast these three hours live on the air on state television, I think much would flip over in very many heads….If a conscience resided in the people in blue [the prosecutors], in the words of Babel, then it would, of course, be very bad for them now, now the appetite would be lost. But they have not lost their appetite, they sat and smiled, snickered, talked with one another very gaily.  Their mood has not soured, because they know that they do not await competition. They know that strength is on their side… They are laughing because they do not have to object to anything. They will not answer a single question that has been asked of them there. All these questions are rhetorical. You do not need to be an economist, or a historian, in order to understand that one can not steal one and the same oil five times at five different stages of existence – from rights, to oil distillation, to proceeds. This is obvious, that this is phony. They do not really conceal this. This is astounding…” (20.04.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Grigory Yavlinsky, member of the Political committee of the “Yabloka” party: “On the merits of the trial with respect to YUKOS I can only repeat: the position of YABLOKO since the summer of the year 2003 is unchanged. This is extra-legal arbitrariness, harmful and dangerous for society…”. (04.05.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Ilya Yashin, member of the presidium of the “Solidarity” movement: “Khodorkovsky is obviously being pursued for political motives. An open-as-day hounding is being arranged against him, and the entire state machine is directed at settling personal accounts with him…We really do consider him a political prisoner and truly are trying so that our activists, the leadership of “Solidarity” would not miss a single trial. This is very important for us”. (02.06.2009, Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center).

Irina Yasina, economist, member of the Council under the President of the RF for Assisting the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Institutions:  “The theater is closing, we are all nauseous”, — wrote Daniil Kharms once. One can pick the most varied artistic epithets, they all pale [by comparison]. Because if you have never heard the reading aloud of financial reporting, certified by an auditor, with all the numerals that they articulate, then definitely go down and take a listen. This is a powerful life impression, equated fully with hellish torture… As an economist I cans say that, of course, my two-month-old tabby Norka would perhaps understand as much of what prosecutor Lakhtin is reading as the prosecutor does, and maybe even more… This is a powerful life impression. I saw the sleeping security guards. All busy. It is interesting to me how much taxpayers’ money goes for this whole showroom. Politics. In pure form”. (16.06.2009, Khodorkovsky-Lebedev Communications Center)


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