Russian Officials Associated with Khodorkovsky’s verdict face Prospect of Sanctions


The latest verdict to Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev became one of the central items on the agenda of the first meeting of the EU Subcommittee on Human Rights. In fact, all key statements had been made throughout the West even before the meeting of the structure. President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek called the verdict a “symbol of systematic problems of the judiciary, legal nihilism, and human rights abuses in Russia.” Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called it a “disappointment and a cause for concern.”

Said Ashton, “Independence of courts and every citizen’s right to a fair trial specified by the European Convention on Human Rights signed by Russia bear decisive importance for the strategic partnership between the European Union and Russia. Supremacy of the law is the cornerstone for the Partnership for Modernization program.” By and large, these words constitute a warning to Russia from the European Union. There can be no strategic partnership with Russia as long as it lacks truly independent courts.

U.S. Department of State spokesman Mark Toner made an analogous statement. American media outlets quoted an unidentified representative of Barack Obama’s Administration as saying that the sentence in question would complicate the process of Russia’s entry into the WTO.

Opening the meeting of the subcommittee, its Chair-in-Office Heidi Hautala (Finland) pointed out that human rights had been grossly abused in the world during European parliamentarians’ vacation. Hautala’s speech was mostly centered on the term of imprisonment Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had drawn. She called the verdict a “failure of the Russian judiciary, one that makes President Medvedev’s modernization a laugh.” “There is no way to trust all talks of modernization in a country where the judiciary is so political that the law is openly defied,” she said.

Maria Logan, one of the lawyers who had defended ex-heads of YUKOS, was given the floor. Logan read aloud excerpts from her charges’ statements in courtroom and explained the so called Churov’s First Law (Vladimir Churov is Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission – Kommersant). “Putin is always right. Whenever Putin is wrong, you must have misunderstood him,” she said. European parliamentarians were amused.

In fact, the subcommittee would not stop at the discourse alone. A group of European parliamentarians asked the subcommittee to consider visa restrictions and economic sanctions against Russian state functionaries involved in the unfair and political verdict. “Kristina Ojuland suggested sanctions against the involved Russian functionaries… sanctions of the kind recently endorsed in connection with Sergei Magnisky’s death,” her press secretary explained. “Sanctions are the only way to make the Russian authorities respect the law. Representatives of the European Parliament and other European structures had gone out of their way to persuade their Russian colleagues by words… but these discussions turned out to be ineffective.”

Ojuland had been one of active promoters of visa restrictions and economic sanctions against the Russian officials involved in the matter of Hermitage Capital lawyer Magnitsky. “It’s not because of my dislike of Russia that I demand sanctions against Russian functionaries. I have Russian roots, after all. I insist on sanctions because I believe that the Russians deserve better than that. Like the Europeans, they are entitled to life in a country where human rights are respected and where there is but one law for all,” she said.

The idea of new sanctions against individual Russian functionaries seemed to have struck a chord. The subcommittee eventually decided to put the second YUKOS affair and the recent verdict on the agenda of the plenary meeting of the European Parliament opening next week.

In Russia, all accusations are denied. “As far as Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are concerned, we are talking tax evasion and money laundering. These are felonies in every country. In the United States, for example, people convicted of them draw life sentences… Speculations on selective use of the law in Russia are groundless,” said the Foreign Ministry.

“All these speculations are invalid since they are only based on the statements of the defense and media reports. They ignore the standpoint of the prosecution,” said Andrei Klimov, Assistant Chairman of the parliamentary Committee for International Affairs. “The defense has just submitted the writ of appeal but European and American politicians already claim that the system is not working. Perfection of the judiciary is Russia’s sovereign affair… I suspect that European and American politicians are so interested because Khodorkovsky’s is Russia’s wealthiest prisoner who probably has money for PR campaigns such as this. As a matter of fact, the foreign politicians I asked this question inevitably ducked it.” онлайн займы unshaven girl https://zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php займы на карту без отказа

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