THE CAGE HOLDING KHODORKOVSKY AND LEBEDEV COULD BE THE SYMBOL OF OUR NATION’S SHAME

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Public figures comment on the outcome of the Khodorkovsky trial

Irina Khakamada: “This cruel and unjust sentence has shown once again that our courts are not independent. All we have is the omnipotent Prosecutor General’s Office, which defends the new oligarchs associated with the regime. All the healthy forces in society must unite against such tyranny.


Vasili Aksenov, writer: "I hoped that common sense would prevail"

I find it hard to speak. I hoped that common sense would prevail. I was in the courtroom at the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, seated only a meter from his cage. Even the thought of such people being confined to a cage is horrifying. People who set about reviving Russia, despite the lack of laws, during the barbaric gold rush years. Yes, they may have made fortunes for themselves, but that wasn’t their primary purpose. What has happened may be described as a complete mockery of the historical contract between the young people of the late 1980s and the authorities. There needs to be some continuity, even when the system of government changes. But the present authorities have simply destroyed that historical contract. So everyone who went into business back then – and private enterprise in our country has turned out to be dangerous – must now feel a constant threat hanging over them. My only hope is that the president, at least, might come to his senses and declare clemency, or an amnesty, or a conditional revision of this entire case. He’s the only source of hope. If he does nothing, that will be an answer to everyone. The cage holding Khodorkovsky and Lebedev could be the symbol of our nation’s shame for decades to come. I have tremendous respect for both of them, and I hope this Gordian knot can be cut.

Vladimir Motyl, director: "Such a precedent may provoke an appetite for more prosecutions"

It’s hard for me to evaluate such an event. I can tell you only one thing – I didn’t expect this. I think that such a strong precedent may provoke an appetite for more prosecutions.

Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the Duma’s criminal law committee: "An impressive sentence"

The sentence is impressive, but it will only be possible to comment on it after it comes into force. In other words, after the court of appeals considers the complaint which lawyers will surely submit.

Irina Khakamada, leader of the Our Choice party: "We do not have independent courts"

This cruel and unjust sentence has shown once again that our courts are not independent. All we have is the omnipotent Prosecutor General’s Office, which defends the new oligarchs associated with the regime. All the healthy forces in society must unite against such tyranny.

Valetnin Zavadnikov, head of the Federation Council committee for industrial policy: "This is a verdict for the Russian judicial system"

We must understand this is not a verdict for Khodorkovsky or Lebedev; this is a verdict for the Russian judicial system, which has proven that it’s not about justice at all.

Dmitri Rogozin, leader of the Motherland party: "Whoever dares to raise his head will be next in line"

I’m outraged by these jail terms. This is a show trial, an object lesson which has nothing to do with trying to establish order in relations between oligarchs and the government. We see a person who dared to have his own opinion; he dared to express his opinion and support the opposition. If government wanted to establish order it would announce the rules publicly. Instead, the government found a scapegoat. The remaining oligarchs can now rest easy – they have accepted with the role of treasurers who are not allowed to have their own opinions. Whoever dares to raise his head will be next in line.

Ivan Melnikov, deputy secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee: "The state prefers to jail some oligarchs and invite others to drink tea in the Kremlin"

The duration of the prison term is not the main point. The government’s policy and the judiciary system, which has turned into a political tool, are the main problem. It’s political, because government applies the law selectively.

Russia has more than two or three oligarchs. Instead of investigating all violations within the framework of the law, the state prefers to jail some oligarchs, and invite others to drink tea and discuss the current situation in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Pekhtin, deputy Duma speaker (United Russia): "It’s a fair sentence"

The court has issued a fair sentence, given the gravity of the crimes committed. The YUKOS case has demonstrated that Russian society lives according to laws.

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