Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A revision of the Khodorkovsky case?

One day after the election, the outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Attorney General to "analyze the grounds" of the judgment in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin said in a statement. Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Attorney General Yuri Chaika "to analyze the legitimacy and validity of judgments by April, 1" related to 32 convicted persons, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev. The outgoing president is responding to the request of the opposition who has transmitted a list of people considered as political prisoners, at a meeting on February 20.

The release of political prisoners was one of the requirements of the large opposition demonstrations in Moscow which followed the contested legislative from December 4. Imprisoned since 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced in two successive trials to 13 years in prison for "tax evasion, money laundering and diversion of oil" in a case seen by many observers as a settling of accounts between the power and the businessman who had stood up against the Kremlin and had financed the opposition.


One of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's lawyers, Karinna Moskalenko, takes the news with some reservations. "We'll see how serious the authorities' intentions are," she said, quoted by the news agency Interfax. "Khodorkovsky was sentenced illegally and they had to release him a long time ago," she said. Dmitry Medvedev had said in the past that he could not discuss Khodorkovsky's pardon since there was no written request by the condemned. In December, Putin also said that he would consider the request for a pardon if Mikhail Khodorkovsky admitted guilt, which the prisoner refuses.

Dmitry Medvedev also instructed the Minister of Justice, Aleksandr Konovanov, to explain by March 15 "why the opposition party Parnas was denied registration." The decisions Medvedev were announced after the presidential election of his predecessor and mentor Vladimir Putin, who is expected to take office in May.

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