Free Russia's Political Prisoners
The Committee to Free Khodorkovsky & Lebedev is a volunteer group of individuals organizing independently to raise awareness of human rights violations in Russia and call for the immediate release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.
It was a colourful assembly which demonstrated for human rights in Hanover, Germany, on 7th April when the Russian President Putin opened the Hanover Fair together with the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Amnesty International demanded “More Energy for Human Rights” and protested against the recent harassment of NGOs in Russia. They raised a number of cases as part of their “Human Rights Made in Russia” campaign: In front of the Congress Center as well as in the Hanover underground railway, they highlighted the cases of the murdered Russian journalist Natalya Estemirova, the threatened human rights defender Igor Kalyapin and the AI prisoners of conscience Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.
Other groups, such as the “Society for Threatened Peoples”, voiced even harsher criticism of the Russian President, mainly by pointing to the genocide in Chechnya as well as to the Russian support for the present Syrian government.
However, apart from verbal accusations, the demonstration was entirely peaceful; no conflicts between the demonstrators and the relatively great number of policemen were to be seen.
As usual, the police had the task to shield the politicians from the critical citizens (see photo with policemen on horseback). As a result, we did not see them entering the “Kuppelsaal” where the opening ceremony took place.
Later on, I read that our German Chancellor had requested President Putin to give a good chance to the civil society in Russia. This remark is better than nothing, of course; in my view, however, it is not sufficient. It would have been considerably more convincing if Mrs Merkel had, beforehand, been bold enough to show a small part of the critical civil society in Germany to her prominent Russian guest.
Nevertheless, the demonstration was quite successful, as media coverage was really good in Germany.
Moreover, it is still possible to take action online with Amnesty International in favour of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev and to demand their release, as more than 7000 people have already done:
Amnesty Calls For Immediate And Unconditional Release of Khodorkovsky And Lebedev
Ahead of the April 7 meeting at the opening of the Hanover Fair between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Amnesty International Germany is calling on their supporters to sign a petition demanding the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.
Amnesty International, which declared Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as prisoners of conscience in 2011, plans to cover Hanover’s subway stations, light rail, major intersections, and public places with posters bearing the slogan, “Human Rights Made in Russia” to raise awareness of Russia’s political prisoners ahead of the trade fair.
SIGN THE AMNESTY PETITION IN GERMAN OR ENGLISH HERE:
By JEFFREY D. KAHN
WHAT is the difference between Dmitri A. Medvedev and Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s tag-teaming presidents? It’s the difference between officially asking experts for unvarnished advice, and punishing those experts for giving it.
In early 2011, when Mr. Medvedev (now prime minister) was still president, the Kremlin’s human rights council selected nine experts to scrutinize the 2010 conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once one of Russia’s richest men but is now its best-known political prisoner. I was invited to serve, the one American in a group with six experts from Russia, one from Germany and one from the Netherlands. We did not mince our words criticizing the Khodorkovsky trial.
That December, Russian television showed the council’s chairman delivering our findings to Mr. Medvedev, with a recommendation that Mr. Khodorkovsky’s conviction be annulled. But then Mr. Putin, who was president from 2000 to 2008 and then bided his time as prime minister, returned to the presidency in May 2012. Since then, for their willingness to speak truth to power, at least four of my Russian counterparts have been questioned in connection with a criminal investigation. The court order used to harass them refers to their “deliberately false conclusions.” Talk about killing the messenger.
You may be surprised to learn that the Kremlin has a human rights agency. Not only has one existed since 1993, but the human rights council, as it is currently known, was active and respected under Mr. Medvedev’s presidency. Its membership was a who’s who of leading Russian human rights personalities, including Lyudmila M. Alexeyeva, the leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a former Soviet dissident.
In the Medvedev years, the council’s work had impact. For example, its study of the death in custody of the Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky forced the state to reopen its own investigation of the event. The United States Congress cited the council’s findings in an act named for Mr. Magnitsky that was passed late last year. That law, which was linked to a lifting of trade restrictions, restricted the ability of the officials responsible for Mr. Magnitsky’s death to move themselves or their assets to American shores. Even more remarkably, the council scrutinized the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky, who is still paying the price for daring to finance Mr. Putin’s political opponents a decade ago. He was arrested in 2003 and was convicted in 2005 of evading taxes on oil sold by his Yukos oil company. He was dropped into the Russian prison archipelago, and Yukos was lost to a state-owned company. In 2010, as he approached eligibility for parole, he was convicted again, this time for embezzling the oil he was previously convicted of selling on the sly; he remains in prison today. Many have questioned the validity of these charges, their sequential filing, and the fairness of his trials.
My involvement began in April 2011, when I received an e-mail from Tamara Morshchakova, a retired justice of the Russian Constitutional Court; she was heading the council’s working group on the case. She asked me to write a report evaluating this second conviction. At the time, I thought this might be a chance to shine sunlight on this shadowy case, and that Mr. Medvedev would be more open to reconsideration than Mr. Putin.
Ms. Morshchakova had written to me: “The expert analysis is to be conducted on a voluntary basis and on the condition of confidentiality.” That meant I worked without pay, and without contact with the council, through that spring and summer, before submitting my report.
I now realize that this isolation was a safety precaution, intended to avoid false accusations of expertise-for-hire or collusion. Only when the work of all the experts was personally given to President Medvedev did I learn who else had written reports and what they had said. The six Russians included leaders in the country’s top academic institutions and prominent professors with expertise in legal scholarship, economics or both.
But once Mr. Putin switched places last year with Mr. Medvedev, my Russian counterparts began to pay for their too-public public service. Just weeks after Mr. Putin’s election last March, a Russian official smeared the council’s impartiality, citing charitable donations Yukos made over a decade ago to nongovernmental organizations whose leaders now sit on the council.
Then, shortly after Mr. Putin’s inauguration in May, search warrants were issued under the pretext of investigating whether Mr. Khodorkovsky had financed the “deliberately false conclusions of specialists under the guise of independent public expertise by paying those who organized their production as well as the experts.” I’m told that, one by one, these experts and people they work with are finding their homes and workplaces searched, their papers and computers seized. They are also being subjected to aggressive questioning.
Meanwhile, many council members, including Ms. Alexeyeva, have resigned in protest of Mr. Putin’s return. Their ranks have been restocked and enlarged, but the council now seems a shadow of its former independent-minded self.
Of course, as an American working outside of Russia, I am insulated from the full force of Mr. Putin’s wrath. Not so these Russian experts. Their work showed true courage, particularly because they must have known the risks.
Punishing the leaders to quiet the herd is an old practice for authoritarian regimes, and this message was intended for news editors, television reporters, bloggers and others who would speak their minds to the public. With Mr. Putin back in the Kremlin, it is no longer safe to express an opinion on public affairs, even if that opinion was requested by the state itself.
Jeffrey D. Kahn is an associate professor of law at Southern Methodist University. read more…
On January 24th, Pavel Khodorkovsky will be presenting his father’s latest book “My Way. A Political Confession”, written with Russian journalist Natalya Gevorkyan, to an audience in Berlin’s Martin-Gropius Bau.
In the book, Mikhail Khodorkovsky describes the developments in Russia in the 1990s and the history of his company Yukos as well as details of his current life in prison. Furthermore, he outlines his view on contemporary Russia, the autocratic structure of the Putin regime and his thoughts on a program for the political, economic and social development of his country.
Pavel Khodorkovsky will be joined at the presentation by Markus Loening, Federal Commissioner for Human Rights who attended the second Khodorkovsky trial in Moscow, as well as Peter Franck, a Russia expert from Amnesty International Germany. German author Olaf Kuehl, who has published a novel about two friends travelling to Siberia to free Khodorkovsky, will be reading selected passages from the book. The evening will be moderated by Journalist Nils Kreimeier, from business magazine Capital.
What: M. Khodorkovsky “My Way. A Political Confession”
When: 24 January 2013, 6.30 pm
Where: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin
RSVP: To attend please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michail Chodorkowski & Natalja Geworkjan: “Mein Weg. Ein politisches Bekenntnis”. (2012, Verlag: DVA Sachbuch)
MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) – Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky believes care for old people orphans should become the real “spiritual traditions” in 2013.
“Lonely old people and lonely children. Remember about them. Ability and readiness to be kind and have compassion, these are the real spiritual traditions of our society, which we have not become yet, but which we want to be. I wish you all happiness in the New Year,” Khodorkovsky said in his letter to prominent writer Boris Akunin.
Akunin published Khodorkovsky’s letter in his blog in livejournal.com. “All newspapers have closed for the New Year and Mikhail Borisovich (Khodorkovsky) asked me to put the text here, in my blog, which I am doing with pleasure,” Akunin said.
“I am very lucky. I have never been lonely, I have a loving family and friends, and many people have supported me at difficult moments. However, I have had a chance to look at life from a different side. In prison and before it, in the difficult years, I became convinced that the most terrible thing is loneliness, not poverty, especially the loneliness of children and old people,” Khodorkovsky said.
In his letter, Khodorkovsky calls on people to help lonely old people in old people’s homes and orphans in orphanages.
“Our love and ability to make even small miracles for them are more important to those who are now lonely and unhappy,” Khodorkovsky said.
“I have had a chance to visit orphanages and old people’s homes. Not all of them are the same, not all people who live there are unhappy, but what we call ‘commonplace’ and ‘social’, where sick and abandoned people are kept are a horrible test to the nerves of a normal person,” he said.
“I can’t find a reasonable explanation as to how this is possible in our country, which is not poor at all. I can’t explain why it is so hard to raise money for the treatment of children who can be cured. I can’t even explain why our political elite, having adopted an ugly budget, which does not guarantee life, health, and proper care even to them, now deprive children of the hope of finding a family to achieve their political ends. It’s difficult to fight heavy hatred when such things happen,” Khodorkovsky said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said in his address to the Federal Assembly that Russian society has a serious lack of “spiritual traditions.”
By Pavel Khodorkovsky
The imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an innocent man, proves that the Russian regime is rotten to the core
Daily Telegraph 8:18PM BST 24 Oct 2012
Nine years ago today, Vladimir Putin’s regime arrested my father, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on trumped-up, politically motivated charges. The Yukos oil company he led, then one of the largest in Russia, was subsequently destroyed, its assets expropriated through forced bankruptcy and rigged auctions.
Those assets were in the spotlight this week, as BP and Rosneft signed their multi-billion-dollar deal. As The Daily Telegraph’s business editor put it: “Rosneft itself is the product of assets appropriated – if stolen is too strong a word – from Yukos.”
My father’s continued imprisonment has had a lasting, damaging impact on Russia, politically and economically. And his prospects for freedom are intertwined with Russia’s current political climate.
Last December, Russians took to the streets to protest against their government – for the first time in two decades – following rigged parliamentary elections. The winter of ballot-stuffing melted into the spring of strong-arming the opposition ahead of March’s presidential election. The outgoing Dmitry Medvedev’s illusions of hope were swept aside by the returning Putin’s unmistakable severity. Pussy Riot punk rockers were locked up, bloggers bugged and any non-profit organisation accepting funds from abroad labelled a menacing “foreign agent”.
The centrepiece of Medvedev’s supposed pro-Democracy reforms, direct elections of regional governors, took place last month – but with the United Russia party’s trademark interference. The opposition activist Evgenia Chirikova was allowed to stand for mayor in Khimki, but her supporters were intimidated by Putin loyalists. A pro-Kremlin media outlet bizarrely suggested her association with the Institute of Modern Russia, of which I am the president, was a reason she lost.
Democracy and human rights in Russia remain fragile. But neither I nor my father has lost hope. More than 82,000 Russians voted online last week in the first Opposition Council election. The results are less important than the fact that more than 165,000 Russians registered, uploading their photos to the election website, and risking reprisals from government forces.
But pro-democracy activists still have a long way to go. The paradox of Putin’s authoritarian rule is this: although his popularity has ebbed in the past year, and the opposition movement grown, a fair election – for the Duma, for regional governors, for president – would have yielded a pro-Kremlin result.
Large parts of Russia still prefer Putin’s style of rule to the alternatives. But instead of capitalising on his position, Putin is jeopardising it by cracking down harder, adding fuel to the opposition fire. Indeed, his authoritarian displays, such as locking up the three women from Pussy Riot for singing a 30-second song in a church, have made him look ridiculous.
But Russia will soon face intensified international attention, given its slaughter-facilitating intransigence on Syria, its recent accession to the World Trade Organisation, and its hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The question for Putin is how to hold onto power peacefully, without looking ever more authoritarian, outlandish and out of control.
My family and I hope that part of the answer could be to free my father. I am not naive enough to think that Putin will suddenly develop a love of the rule of law and loosen his grip on the judiciary. Nor do I necessarily think that he cares about coming across unfavourably around the world. But Western governments, including the US and United Kingdom; respected peace activists, from Elie Wiesel to Aung San Suu Kyi; human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Freedom House; and noted legal organisations such as the International Bar Association all agree: my father’s freedom would boost Russia’s international legitimacy, open up its market to foreign investors and demonstrate that the nation is serious about the rule of law.
My father has stated often that he has no political ambitions. His only vocational aspirations are to return to philanthropy and education programmes, like the Open Russia Foundation he began a decade ago. He does not want to return to oil.
For now, however, his future decisions are hypothetical. Yet as he sits in jail, he remains a galvanising figure – and a thorn in Putin’s side. His writings on democracy and freedom are read and admired across Russia and the world, his vision of a new Russia reverberating in the minds of every one of us. “I am convinced the only way forward,” he recently told a German newspaper, “is non-violent protest with the objective of attaining the liberalisation of socio-political life… the probability of [liberalisation] is extremely significant in the next three to five years.”
If Putin wanted Mikhail Khodorkovsky to go away, he should have exiled him like so many others, to the anonymity of a New York or London cocktail party. Instead, as he begins his tenth year away from us, my father feels closer – his words more poignant, his ideas more likely to spark something revolutionary – than at any time in the last nine years.
Pavel Khodorkovsky is president of the Institute of Modern Russia and is based in New York
Ein politisches Bekenntnis
is the German title of the new book
by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Natalia Geworkian
which was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week (please see fig. 1 and 2).
The original title “This Experiment Will be Useful Too” already gives a first impression of the imprisoned author’s attitude towards life.
On the publisher’s German website the following information is given about the background to the book:
Since his arrest in 2003 Mikhail Khodorkovsky has become Russia’s best-known prisoner. In 2011 he was again convicted, and sentenced to several more years in prison, in a trial which was widely criticised as a farce.
In this book, written in custody during the past year and smuggled out of the prison chapter by chapter, Khodorkovsky gives, for the first time, a candid and comprehensive account of his childhood and youth, of his rise to become one of the richest oil entrepreneurs in Russia – and of his strong personal convictions, which resulted in his becoming Vladimir Putin’s adversary. We see a man whom we cannot easily pigeonhole, who is courageously committed to an open society in a state in which regime critics live dangerously, and who remains unbowed even in custody.
The Russian journalist Natalia Geworkian supplements Khodorkovsky’s records by adding chapters which further illuminate the background.
For more detailed information in German, please see
The German translation will become available on 22nd October, 2012.
The book is also available in French and Dutch.
By James Kimer
Posted on October 3, 2012
October 3 marks the first anniversary of the passing of Vasily Alexanyan, a Yukos lawyer who died as a result of abuse and cruel mistreatment by the Russian authorities during a prolonged period of pretrial detention. Alexanyan, who was denied critical medical care in order to “medically blackmail” him into perjury against his friends and colleagues, will always be remembered as someone who steadfastly refused to bend before the threats of the state, and ended up paying with his life for his beliefs.
It is a testament to the politically motivated nature of the Yukos affair when the Kremlin began targeting the lawyers acting on behalf of Yukos, depriving the main defendants, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, of their right to counsel. After many midnight raids of offices, seizures of property, threats of disbarment and even credible intimations of violence, many lawyers were forced to flee the country and seek asylum abroad. Alexanyan, who served as General Counsel to Yukos, stayed behind to defend the company with the full knowledge that the government would move aggressively.
He was abruptly arrested on Oct. 6, 2006, implausibly charged with tax fraud and embezzlement (Alexanyan had only held his Vice President position for a very brief period, as shareholders attempted to protect company assets from seizure). Shortly after his imprisonment, it was discovered that he had contracted HIV-AIDS from a blood transfusion he received following a car accident. Having discovered this medical ailment, the government quickly moved the prisoner to the most squalid conditions possible, including a freezing cold and damp cell (at 2 degrees Celsius with literally water and mildew running down the walls), and continued to deny him adequate doctor visits or medication.
Many observers have compared the treatment of Alexanyan to the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, another lawyer working for Hermitage who was abused and tortured by Russia’s prison authorities with as of yet no consequences. The state’s cruelty toward Alexanyan knew no boundaries. The prison conditions were horrifically substandard. He was denied medical examinations, while later the prosecutors would tell the courts that he “refused” medication and had been given satisfactory medical evaluations. Alexanyan was also offered a very clear quid pro quo deal by Prosecutor Salavat Karimov, who was preparing the second case against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev – if Alexanyan would testify against his friends and colleagues, he would be given all the life-saving anti-retrovirals he required.
Speaking to the Supreme Court via video feed from his cell, Alexanyan challenged the court to spend one day suffering the pain he had been subjected to: “Whoever is asserting this, I would like to let him have my body for 10 minutes, so he could experience the hellish torment I’m experiencing. Only a person bereft of reason could say something like that. So he’d be climbing the walls from the pain and no medicine would help him. Let him have enough of a conscience to look me in the eye. (…) All this time, by the way, not only were they not prescribing medical treatment for me, they didn’t even want to take me out for repeat tests. This is torture, you understand, torture! Natural, legally authorized torture! I am refusing medical treatment! This is complete drivel! You’re now seeing me via television relay, apparently, in black-and-white depiction. If you were to see [me] right now in the courtroom, you would be horrified.”
He continued, “I ask the Supreme Court to manifest…to show that there is justice in Russia, that Russian citizens don’t need to go dying on the steps of the European Court in order to attain any justice. That it can be attained here, in Moscow, in your [court]room, show this. How long can we go on paving the country with bones?”
In early 2008, Mikhail Khodorkovsky initiated a hunger strike to call attention to the torture of Alexanyan, which eventually resulted in the government agreeing to move the prisoner to a clinic. But it was too late. His health began to seriously deteriorate in November 2008, when he had to undergo surgery to remove his spleen.
The international community was horrified by the treatment of Alexanyan. On December 22, 2008 the European Court of Human Rights did make a request – which was ignored – for Russia to immediately release the tortured prisoner after their investigations found that Russia had violated his rights. According to the ECHR order, the “national authorities had failed to take sufficient care of the applicant’s health. (…) This had undermined his dignity and entailed particularly acute hardship, causing suffering beyond that inevitably associated with a prison sentence and the illnesses he suffered from, which amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.”
On June 24, 2010, the prosecutors finally dropped their case against Alexanyan after the maximum amount of time under law had transpired since the charges. But by that point, a death sentence had already been issued by the state. At this point his physical health had been ravaged by the state’s torture, having contracted tuberculosis, having lost his eyesight, and with a severely weakened immune system. To boot, the Kremlin decided to impose a staggering $1.8 million bail bond on his release, which Alexanyan called “a cynical derision of law and common sense.” On December 8, 2010, Alexanyan finally was able to go home, to spend his last days with family and friends.
When Vasily passed away on October 3, 2011, many friends, relatives, and colleagues came forward to celebrate his memory. His close friend and lawyer Anton Drel published a eulogy in Vedomosti, celebrating Alexanyan’s remarkable strength and presence: “He tried to live every day like it was his last; he was just the sort of person about whom one could say: live beautifully, long, and… die young.”
There was little doubt that Alexanyan’s life had been taken in a criminal act. Human rights activist Lev Ponomarev told the Financial Times, “He would still be alive if he hadn’t spent a long time in solitary confinement and had received medical treatment in time.” Activst Valery Borshchyov echoed the feelings of many when he said the death of Alexanyan “was practically a murder.”
Recognizing the first anniversary of his passing, Mikhail Khodorovsky published a statement on his Russian website, commenting that Alexanyan was “a courageous man and a good guy. He did not make a deal with his conscience and paid for it with his life. I, like many others, will remember it forever.”
Segezha, 6 August 2012 – It is painful to watch what is taking place in the
Khamovnichesky Court of the city of Moscow, where Masha, Nadya, and Katya are on
trial. The word “trial” is applicable here only in the sense in which it was
used by the Inquisitors of the Middle Ages.
I know this aquarium in courtroom number 7 well – they made it especially for me
and Platon, “just for us”, after the ECHR had declared that keeping defendants
behind bars is degrading and violates the Convention on Human Rights.
This is a subtle and sophisticated way of mocking people who dared to file a
complaint with the ECHR: ah, okay, so you say that a cage with bars is bad; well
then, here’s a cage made of glass for you, a beaker with a little porthole
through which you can talk to your lawyers, but you need to twist and contort
yourself every which way to actually be able to speak through it. In the summer
you feel like a tropical fish in that glass cage – it is hot, and the air from
the air conditioner in the courtroom does not circulate through the glass. It
was hard for me and Platon – two people – to be in the aquarium together the
whole day. I can not even imagine how all three of those poor girls manage to
fit in there at once…
I have read about how the judge has denied motions to reduce the time of the
court hearing, and about the refusals to call an ambulance.
When they drive you from the SIZO to the courthouse, this is how it happens:
reveille even before the communal breakfast, stewing in your own sweat whilst
hunched over in the “beaker” [a miniscule isolation cell for special prisoners
inside the prisoner transport lorry—Trans.], transport through the Moscow
traffic jams – a minimum of 2 hours. They held me in “Matrosskaya tishina” –
this is in the centre; but they bring the girls over from Pachatniki – that is
twice as far away. They probably spend three hours in each direction just on
travel time alone.
Two humiliating body searches in the SIZO, where you have to strip naked –
before departure and after arrival; the convoy conducts another two. A minimum
of four body searches per day in total.
Then they handcuff you to a guard and drag you from the automobile right into
the courthouse doors. You’ve got 10 seconds to turn your head and take a glance
at the free world. If you’re lucky, you might notice someone you know.
That is why it is so important for there to be “greeters” outside the
courthouse: every smile of support in this brief instant is worth its weight in
gold and helps you shake off the 6 hours of abuse you have already endured since
the moment of reveille and to enter the courtroom feeling like a human being
In the courthouse – either straight into the courtroom, at a brisk trot up the
stairs, chained by one hand to the convoy guard, or into the “konvoyka” cell –
there to wait until they “let you out” into the courtroom.
And in the courtroom – that same aquarium, where you need to react appropriately
to what is taking place, to answer questions, and to keep track of the testimony
of the witnesses…
But how can you keep track of anything in such conditions? The girls don’t even
have any surface on which to place a notepad in there – take notes “on your lap”
for the whole of the court hearing, if your back is healthy enough for that…
Otherwise, you hope that your lawyers will write it down, and that you’ll then
be given the time to discuss what is happening with them.
Recess, a packed dry lunch. What’s in it? Dry noodles, dry porridge. This is not
even one of those instant ramen noodle “bricks” – it’s worse. By the time the
boiling water finally gets the noodles soft enough to eat, the 20 minute recess
is over. And if someone has kidney problems, such a diet is almost murder. I
stopped eating in the second week of the trial: it was better to survive through
the whole day on just water alone.
The session has ended, everybody heads home. But the defendants get handcuffed
to a guard, and then it’s back to the SIZO through the Moscow traffic jams. They
arrive already after the communal supper. You can take a shower only on
Saturday. C’est la vie… The “work day” – 20 hours. Lights out. If there is a
court session tomorrow, they’ll get you up in 3 hours and the whole “procedure”
will be repeated.
I don’t know how the girls endure it…
It is not customary to talk about all this in court, because nobody asks about
it in the trial. It is not customary to complain about this in the SIZO, because
for the SIZO this is the usual regime, and besides, if you complain they’ll just
go and wake you up an hour earlier and bring you back an hour later. But the
judge, of course, knows about this regime. Torture, perhaps?
If limiting familiarisation with the case and extending arrest is just the usual
run-of-the-mill lawlessness, an 11-hour court session without a decent break
even for lunch sure looks like the execution of an instruction to complete the
judicial investigation, and maybe even the final submissions, before the end of
the Olympiad, while the world’s mass information media are busy with other
things, and our ignominy does not resonate quite as loudly. The ignominy of a
great country, a country of world famous humanists and scientists, turning
headlong into a backwards Asiatic province.
I am very ashamed and hurt. And not because of these girls – the mistakes of
youthful radicalism can be forgiven – but for the state, which is profaning our
Russia with its complete and utter lack of conscience.
We have been deprived of an honest and independent judiciary, of the opportunity
to defend ourselves and to protect people from lawlessness. But what we can do,
if we happen to recognise those who are perpetrating arbitrariness for money and
privileges – be it on the street, in a shop, or in the theatre – is explain to
them and to those around, politely but in no uncertain terms, just what we think
of them, why we do not respect them, why we do not want to give them any help
with anything, and why, on the contrary, we are going to stand against them in
every little thing.
That way we shall be able to retain respect for ourselves.
I call on all thinking, educated, and simply good and kind people to send words
of hope to the girls. Your support – the support of every person – is now very
important to those who have ended up in confinement by the will of evil forces!
Khodorkovsky’s statement was also published in full in Germany’s Die Welt, the
UK’s Guardian and France’s Le Monde
This recent article is from the Daily Mail, and the photographs accompanying the piece can be seen here
How did Vladimir Putin afford his £450,000 watch collection worth six times his annual salary?
• Russian president’s watch collection includes a £300,000 timepiece, opposition group claim
• Putin has casually given away three £7,000 watches
• Despite this his salary is listed as only £72,000
By Rob Cooper
PUBLISHED: 12:45, 9 June 2012 | UPDATED: 08:20, 11 June 2012
With a collection of watches worth almost £500,000, many would assume they belonged to a Russian oligarch.
But Russian president Vladimir Putin has a collection of timepieces worth almost six times his official annual salary of £72,000.
One of the watches – made from platinum with a crocodile skin strap – sells for more than £300,000 alone.
It is called Tourbograph and is made by German watchmaker A Lange & Sohne.
Smart timepiece: Vladimir Putin shows off one of his watches as he meets Angela Merkel in Berlin on June 1
The revelation has raised questions about how the Russian president can afford such a lavish collection.
Details of Vladimir Putin’s watches were revealed in a video produced by the Russian opposition group Solidarity and posted on YouTube.
The video, titled ‘Watches of a Kleptocrat’ shows Mr Putin saying he would continue with his battle against corruption in a video from 2007.
It goes on to contrast the Russian president’s watch with a £225 watch that President Obama has been seen wearing.
The video alleges that Russia’s political and religious leaders have an obsession with expensive timepieces.
£7,000 watch: Vladimir Putin wears a Aqua Lung watch as he attends the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009
Extravagant: An Aqua Lung watch, left, worth £7,000 which Vlaimir Putin has been giving away. He is on his forth after handing two over to the public, and casually placing another in wet cement. Right is a Patek Philippe watch worth £39,000 and made from white gold
Smart timepiece: Mr Putin wears the Flyback, worth £6,450 in 2007
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, are shown in the Kremlin wearing expensive-looking watches.
As well as his £300,000 Tourbograph masterpiece, the president has a £6,450 Flyback also made by A Lange & Sohne.
He is also seen wearing a £39,000 Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar.
And remarkably he is on his fourth £7,000 Blancpain watch called Leman Aqya Lugn Grande Date.
He gave away two in demonstrations to a shepherd and a locksmith. The third was dropped in wet foundations at a building site.
The watches are worth at least 22million rubles, Solidarity claimed, while is salary is listed as 3.6million rubles.
Boris Nemtosov, the Solidarity leader, told a blog in a tongue in cheek remark: ‘Putin, it seems, did not eat or drink for six years to acquire this collection.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156794/How-did-Vladimir-Putin-afford-450-000-watch-collection-worth-times-annual-salary.html#ixzz1xYItJWh7