“For Human Rights”
125009, Moscow, Maly Kislovsky per., Tel.: (095) 291-62-33, fax: (095)202-22-24
7, bldg. 1, suite 21 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.zaprava.ru
for recognition of RF citizens Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev
as Political Prisoners
Platon Leonidovitch Lebedev was born on November 29, 1956, in Moscow and lived there until his arrest. Before his arrest – Chairman of the Board of Directors of the “MENATEP” Group, manager of the stock of the “Yukos” Oil Company, “Menatep StP” Bank, “Progress-Doverie” RPF, and Bank-Trust. Married, with four children.
On July 2, 2003, Platon Leonidovitch Lebedev was arrested on the premises of the hospital named after Vishnevsky on the charge of having misappropriated a 20 percent stock of OAO "Apatit". This was the start of the “Yukos case”. He is currently held in the Pre-trial Detention Centre (SIZO) #77-1 (“Matrosskaya Tishina”) located in Moscow, in the hospital section.
The Application on behalf of P.L. Lebedev re violation by the Russian Federation of Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms was accepted for priority consideration by the European Court of Human Rights.
Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky was born on June 26, 1963, in Moscow and lived there until his arrest. Before his arrest – Chairman of the Board of the Russian Oil Company “Yukos”. On November 3, 2003, being under inquest and in jail, resigned from the post of the Company CEO and became Chairman of the Board of the All-Russian NGO “Open Russia”. Married, with four children.
Arrested on October 25, 2003, by a special forces unit of the Federal Security Service (FSB) upon personal insistence of RF Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov. He is currently held at the Pre-trial Detention Centre # 77-1 (“Matrosskaya Tishina”), in Moscow.
The Application on behalf of M.B. Khodorkovsky re violation by the Russian Federation of Article 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was accepted by the European Court of Human Rights on February 9, 2004.
1. Circumstances of the Prosecution
There are serious grounds to assume that the so-called “Yukos case” began with a secret conference in the RF Office of the Prosecutor General held in November 2002, at which instructions were issued to “take care of Yukos”.
A year later, on the eve of the arrest, in October 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky would say that at a meeting of top officials of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri Biryukov spoke about “an open war between the Prosecutor General’s Office and Yukos”.
The next incident goes back to February 19, 2003. Yet unaware of the looming threat, at a meeting of leading businessmen with the Russian President in the Kremlin, a tradition going back to 1996, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, reproached Putin of a mass corruption of civil servants and produced tables to prove that the statements made by the government and publicised as a major reform effort were no more than empty words.
However the persecution of the leading businessman and patron of arts Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky and his friend, one of leading shareholders of the “Yukos” Company Platon Leonidovitch Lebedev began in spring 2003 with the publication of the report “Oligarchs are Preparing a Coup in Russia”. This view is shared by practically all Russian observers, political scientists, journalists, public and political figures. The Report was presented by political scientists Stanislav Belkovsky and Joseph Diskin on behalf of a very prestigious “Council for the National Strategy”, and published in the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, a popular newspaper with a wide circulation. The central idea of the Report is that oligarchs are preparing a coup in Russia. The aim of the coup is to achieve personal integration of the super-big business into government agencies and substantially curtail the presidential authority, to turn Russia from a presidential into a presidential-parliamentary republic.
It has to be pointed out that, first, in the Report about “an oligarchic coup”, oligarchs were subdivided into those “influencing policy”, i.e. trying to drag their supporters into the parliament, supporting certain media, political entities and NGOs, and “the harmless ones”, that is those who do not defend their views openly; and, second, the mere idea of a constitutional reform instituted by means of legitimate parliamentary procedures was regarded as something criminal, though the idea of such a reform that was proposed by various political forces as early as mid-nineties is a normal theme for public debate. The “anti-oligarchic” Report coincided in time with the proposed vote of no confidence to the Government headed at that time by Mikhail Kasyanov. The above initiative belonged to two opposition factions of the previous State Duma, namely to the Communist Party and “Yabloko”. The above proposal was very painfully received by the pro-presidential forces in Parliament, despite the fact that they themselves had been continuously criticising the policy pursued by Kasyanov, as it deprived their position of originality. It is a known fact that “Yukos” shareholders were financially supporting political parties, including the Communist Party and “Yabloko”.
Other members of the “Council for the National Strategy” energetically disclaimed any association with the given Report. The well-known Russian political scientist Mark Urnov, Chairman of the Board of the “Centre for Political Technologies” publicly called the report “stuff and nonsense”. In late May – early June 2003 the accusation against oligarchs was regarded as Kremlin’s revenge for their criticism of the government that had not been approved by the President. However, eventually it turned out that actions of the law enforcement bodies in relation to the top management of the “Yukos” Oil Company were taken against the background of an unfolding stage-managed propaganda attack on Khodorkovsky.
It should be noted that in early September 2003, when the “Yukos case” had become a central theme of Russia’s internal political life, another report appeared authored by another political scientist who was very close to the Kremlin, namely by Gleb Pavlovsky. This report labelled actions of a certain “Group” (according to Pavlovsky, this “group” embraced certain top figures from the Presidential Administration, the FSB and the Prosecutor General’s Office, as well as some big businessmen close to Putin) that stood behind the attacks on businessmen, “a latent coup d’etat”. Assessing the fact of the arrest, practically all commentators, politicians and experts have been pointing to the exclusively and demonstratively political character of the case against M. Khodorkovsky – from the perspective of its impact on the relations between powers that be with business and civil society. This view is shared both by supporters and opponents of the prosecution of the defendants of the “Yukos” case.
Thus, it became obvious that beginning from May 2003 we have been witnesses of a targeted campaign launched against the “Yukos” Oil Company, with the Prosecutor General’s Office and other bodies of government structures standing behind this campaign. The methods used in this campaign embrace multilevel official and semi-official propaganda and police harassment.
Acts of Harassment included the following stages:
On June 19, 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General accused Head of the Department of Internal Economic Security Service of “Yukos”, Alexei Pichugin, of having organised in November 2002 a murder of two people in an RF regional centre (Article 105, RF Criminal Code). The court ruled on custodial restraint of A. Pichugin. The charge was mounted by a multiple murderer and rapist serving a prison sentence, who insisted that Pichugin had hired him to kill a married couple. However, their bodies have never been found. Pichugin was brought to the FSB Pre-trial Detention Centre “Lefortovo” that is outside the jurisdiction of the RF Ministry of Justice. In jail, Pichugin has been subjected to interrogations by FSB officers and torture with the use of unidentified psychotropic drugs, which is unauthorised by the procedural norm. He is coerced to testify against the top management of “Yukos”. Then Pichugin was forwarded to the Institute named after Serbsky, notorious for its abuses in the field of psychiatry, allegedly for an expert medical examination, where they try to interrogate him about the circumstances of his case. It is yet unknown what evidence Pichugin has given about Khodorkovsky, the defence counsels have not been allowed to familiarise with it under the pretext of the secrecy of the inquest.
On July 14, 2003, in the absence of his defence counsels, Pichugin was unlawfully interrogated by FSB officers, who tried to obtain from him information about Khodorkovsky, and there is a high probability that psychotropic drugs were used during the interrogation (leaving on his arms traces of injections).
On July 24 an attempt was made to subject Pichugin to a medical examination, again in the absence of his defence counsels. RF State Duma deputes, the Moscow Helsinki group and the Committee “For Civil Rights” made a statement about the violation of Pichugin’s rights.
On August 26 a psychiatric medical examination of Pichugin was performed in the notorious Institute of Social and Forensic Psychiatry named after Serbsky. The medical examination was performed in the absence of his defence counsels. Alexei Pichugin was subjected to psychological pressure and interrogated about the essence of the case, which is a blatant violation of the law. The Basmanny District Court (since the beginning of the Yukos case this court has earned a reputation as a symbol of “engaged” justice), and then the Moscow City Court (as a Court of Appeal) dismissed all appeals concerning unlawful actions of the investigation bodies, submitted by the defence counsels. At the court session of the Moscow City Court on September 1, 2003, after the court dismissed the appeal of Pichugin’s defence counsels re change of the measure of restraint (Pichugin was very unwell), representative of the Prosecution (of the RF Prosecutor General’s Office), Valery Lakhtin, declared that the presence of defence counsels at the trial is “a big favour on the part of the Prosecutor General’s Office”.
Since that moment the Basmanny District Court that has considered all appeals and complaints of the defendants arrested under the Yukos case has consistently taken sides with the Prosecutor General’s Office in relation to all appeals submitted by the defence counsels and the defendants.
On July 2, 2003 law enforcement bodies detained in Moscow Platon Leonidovitch Lebedev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ZAO MFO "МЕNАТЕP", financial centre of the “Yukos” Oil Company.
Criminal proceedings against P. Lebedev and the latter’s detention were based on the materials of the inspection, following an address of a State Duma deputy, Vice-Chairman of the Economic Policy and Entrepreneurship Committee, Vladimir Yudin. The detention took place under the following dramatic circumstances: Platon Lebedev was summoned as a witness to the Prosecutor General’s Office, then there was a verbal arrangement with his attorney, Mr. Anton Drel, concerning a second visit. Early in the morning P. Lebedev felt unwell, and was taken to a well-known military hospital named after Vishnevsky. Platon Lebedev’s attorney, Anton Drel, came to the Prosecutor General’s Office and got a subpoena for the following morning. However after this, and on the eve of Lebedev’s appearance in the Prosecutor General’s Office, officials from the Prosecutor General’s Office themselves showed up at the Vishnevsky hospital and forced Lebedev to get dressed, handcuffed him and took him to the Prosecutor General’s Office for interrogation.
Later, in his address to the RF Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, that would be confiscated on March 22, 2004, from Lebedev’s defence counsel Evgeny Baru, Lebedev wrote that while he was arrested on July 2, the charges brought against him were based on the facts yielded by the investigation actions carried out on July 9-11 and 14, namely, interrogations of Chairman of the Russian Federal Property Fund Vladimir Malin! Note that Malin did not support the fraud charge brought against Lebedev.
On July 3, 2003, Chairman of the Yukos Board Khodorkovsky told journalists that he was not going to leave Russia in the immediate future. On the same day the Basmanny District Court of Moscow sanctioned the arrest of the Head of ZAO MFO "Меnatep" Platon Lebedev, in the absence of his defence counsels. A respective petition had been submitted to the Court by the RF Prosecutor General’s Office. P. Lebedev was charged with fraudulent embezzlement in large amounts (Article 159, Part 3, RF CC), and with inflicting property damage by deceit or abuse of trust (Article 165, Part 3, RF CC), as well as with non-execution of a court ruling (Article 315, RF CPC).
After the verdict was announced, P. Lebedev was handcuffed, taken out of the court and put into a car. The attorneys of the Head of ZAO MFO "Меnatep" told journalists that P. Lebedev had been taken to the “Lefortovo” Detention Centre.
P. Lebedev’ detention in the RF FSB “Lefortovo” Detention Centre that is outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice was absolutely unmotivated.
P. Lebedev’s lawyers told journalists that the Head of ZAO MFO "Menatep" had refused to sign the ruling containing the charge brought against him. “He is very unwell, and he may have been unaware of what he was asked to sign”, said defence counsel Evgeny Baru. According to Lebedev’s defence counsel Anton Drel, “in the consideration of this issue there were obvious violations of the law and the Constitution". The Court ruled on their client’s measure of restraint in the absence of the defence counsels, and the latter were not allowed to be present when the ruling was announced.
P. Lebedev’s lawyers received a notification about the court session of the Basmanny Court scheduled for 16.30, at 15.00 and immediately notified the Court that they would not be able to get there on time, as Anton Drel needed time to obtain permission to take part in the trial. As a result, the Court did not wait for the attorneys and considered the issue about P. Lebedev’s arrest without the defence counsels.
On July 4, 2003, in Moscow, investigators from the RF Prosecutor General’s Office confiscated documents at the office of ZAO "М-Reestr", holder of the Stock Register of “Yukos” and “Apatit”. That is, documents and materials were confiscated from a company that is the holder of the Stock Register of “Yukos” and “Apatit”. According to a source at “M-Reestr”, a computer server was confiscated, storing all data on Registers of over 200 companies, including OAO “Eniseyneftegaz”, whose shares had been a subject of a conflict between “Yukos” and “Rosneft”. “M-Reestr” is holder of Registers for MFO “Menatep", ACB "Menatep St. Petersburg ", “Yukos” and all its subsidiaries.
On the same day Mikhail Khodorkovsky and member of the Company’s Board, Rector of the Russian State Humanities University, Leonid Nevzlin, were interrogated at the Prosecutor General’s Office. Chairman of the Board of “Yukos” had been testifying before the investigators for about two hours, and the Rector of RSHU spent over eight hours on the premises of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
On July 9, 2003 the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia announced that it was starting a supervisory inspection following an enquiry submitted by a Duma deputy re possible tax evasion on the part of certain oil companies, and specifically “Yukos”.
July 11. Investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office unlawfully searched the archives of the “Yukos-Moscow” Company. According to attorney Albert Mkrtychev, no search warrant was produced. 15-20 investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office, some of them wearing masks and armed, entered the building of the company and began to search the archives. During the search lawyers were forbidden to communicate with each other. All “Yukos” lawyers reported 10 violations that, in their opinion, had taken place during the search.
On August 6, Mikhail Khodorkovsky officially declared that persecution of “Yukos” was aimed at preventing a merger with the “Sibneft” (the company resulting from the merger would have become one of the biggest oil producing companies in the world), and reflected a struggle between liberal reformers and advocates of “a tough course” in the Administration.
Meanwhile searches of the offices of “Yukos”, MENATEP and associated companies have become systematic, and are accompanied by numerous procedural irregularities.
The most odious incident goes back to early October 2003, when practically simultaneously searches took place not only at the office of the “MENATEP” Company, but also at the settlement “Zhukovka” in the Moscow suburbs, where the offices of the personnel are located. These searches had been preceded by a search in the village of “Korallovo”, of a lyceum-boarding house located there. The Executive Director of the latter is the father of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – Boris Khodorkovsky. During the above searches the office of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s defence counsel –Anton Drel – was broken into (his office was also located in the office settlement). Investigators confiscated the attorney’s computer and forced metal cabinets containing cases of his clients, and part of them was also confiscated. Then FSB officers paid a visit to a school where the daughter of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is studying. All these actions had been performed by the Prosecutor General’s Office before official charges were brought against the Yukos CEO. Many observers associate this tactics to an attempt aimed at forcing Khodorkovsky to emigrate, understanding that in this case he would hardly be able to join the ranks of leaders of civil society.
The “YUKOS” case has been accompanied by numerous and unprecedented violations of the law. The former embrace such blatant ones as:
- unlawful detention of attorney Vyacheslav Patskov on the premises of the RF Prosecutor General’s Office;
- unsanctioned search (with confiscation of materials) performed in relation to attorneys: Olga Artyukhova, Evgeny Baru, Anton Drel and Yuri Schmidt;
- attempts to interrogate defence counsels and thus remove them from the process (e.g. in early November 2003 attorneys Vassily Alexanyan and Anton Drel were summoned for interrogation);
- arbitrary limitation of the period of familiarisation with the materials of the criminal case for the infirm Platon Lebedev (obviously the investigation needed this “race” to try Platon Lebedev first, while the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is more well-known to the public, would come next). In the meantime Lebedev was not allowed to have a calculator in his cell to check the accuracy of economic calculations of the Prosecution;
- Platon Lebedev was denied meetings with his defence lawyers that the latter requested (in relation to the defence counsel Elena Liptser this happened twice in March 2004);
- orders were issued to have accounts of “Yukos” employees and shareholders as well as of defence lawyers in the “Yukos” case arrested in Swiss banks; these orders were issued by the Basmanny District Court that ruled, without even trying the case, that Khodorkovsky had established “an organised criminal group with a prearranged assignation of roles”. Thus, the fate of the “Yukos” case has been predetermined.
Despite the resolute defence of the attorney Olga Artyukhova by the Moscow Bar Chamber, the Moscow Department of the Ministry of Justice (that has taken the attorneys “under their control”) is suing to debar Artyukhova.
The developments around “Yukos” are getting a growing public response.
On October 14, 2003, 20 deputes from various factions of the State Duma addressed President Vladimir Putin demanding that the “demonstratively unlawful actions” of the RF Prosecutor General’s Office be discussed at the National Security Council.
October 15 – as many as 101 parliamentarians called on the Acting Chairman of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow, Olga Solopova, to have open hearings of the complaint submitted by Alexei Pichugin’s attorneys.
On October 22 reputed human rights activists in Russia, united in the Initiative Group “Common Action” since May 1997, addressed the RF President, Chairman of the Council of the Federation, Chairman of the State Duma and other senior state officials with a letter “On blatant violations of the law in relation to officials of the “Yukos” Oil Company and their attorneys”:
“We, members of the Initiative Group “Common Action” are addressing you with an appeal to interfere in the totally inadmissible situation – a literal rule of lawlessness in relation to the Yukos Oil Company personnel and their attorneys... Gross violations in the Pichugin and Lebedev cases are increasingly leading us to the conclusion that the given cases bear a calculated character and are aimed against the Yukos Oil Company to persecute the company for political reasons". The letter was signed by E.G. Bonner, Andrei Sakharov Foundation; A.V. Babushkin, Committee “For Civil Rights”; V.V. Borshev, human rights activist; S.A. Gannushkina, “Migration and Law” Network; V.V. Malikova, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, L.A. Ponomarev, “Human Rights” Movement, and other well-known Russian human rights activists.
On October 23, the premises of the “Agency for Strategic Communications”, lead by a well-known political consultant Vadim Malkin, were searched. The formal pretext was its connection with “Yukos”. Then the search went on to the premises of the editorial board of a small newspaper “Contemporary Citizen” that is in fact an intellectual forum of the party “Yabloko”. During the search a huge sum of money, $350 thousand was confiscated without any reason whatsoever, as well as PR materials of the “Yabloko” election campaign. A group of “Yabloko” deputes who arrived at the searched premises were detained for several hours, despite their status of deputes.
On October 25, 2003, Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky was detained by an FSB unit in Novosibirsk, where his plane made an emergency landing following orders from the control tower.
For two preceding weeks Khodorkovsky had been touring regions to meet with local administrations. On October 24 he was in Nyzhny Novgorod at a conference of NGOs “Russian Forum -2003”, and on 25th he was to visit the Angarsk Oil-Chemical Industrial Complex owned by the company. However in the airport of Novosibirsk his plane was blocked and the CEO of the Yukos Oil Company was detained by representatives from the Prosecutor General’s Office and taken to Moscow. In the Prosecutor General’s Office, where Mikhail Khodorkovsky was brought as a witness, he was charged under 6 Articles of the Criminal Code: “fraud” (Article 159, RF CC), "non-execution of a court ruling, court verdict or any other judiciary act” (Article 315, RF CC), “evasion of paying taxes, or insurance dues to state non-budgetary funds on the part of a physical entity” (Article198, RF CC), “ evasion of paying taxes and insurance dues to state non-budgetary funds on the part of organisations” (Article199, RF CC), “inflicting property damage by deceit, or abuse of trust “(Article 165, RF CC), “falsification, production, or sale of counterfeit documents, state awards, stamps, seals and blanks” (Article 327, RF CC).
On October 27, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was transferred from SIZO # 4 “Matrosskaya Tishina”, known as a special pre-trial detention centre of the Chief Department of Penalty Execution (GUIN). Though SIZO #4 is located in the territory of “Matrosskaya Tishina”, it is an autonomous entity accountable directly to the Chief Department of Penalty Execution. SIZO # 4 is known for its special category of inmates. According to available data, M. Khodorkovsky’s transfer followed an order issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General in order to “improve the defendant’s conditions of confinement”. On the same day the All-Russian Conference of Civil Rights Organisations that opened in Moscow unanimously approved an address to the Chairman of RF Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev. The address says that having sanctioned custodial restraint of Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Basmanny Court has blatantly violated the procedural requirement stipulating an emergency character of such measure. The Conference participants adopted two resolutions in which they associated Khodorkovsky’s arrest with the beginning of police repressions and called for the consolidation of the civil society in the name of democracy.
On October 30, 2003, investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor General, lead by investigator Bezugly, arrested shares making up 53% of the authorised capital of the Yukos Oil Company. These shares owned by Yukos Universal Limited and Hully Enterprises were on the deposit accounts in the “Trust” Investment Bank.
The report on the securities arrest indicates that the given shares “are actually owned by Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky ”. Head of the Yukos Press Service Andrei Shadrin said that “the company’s lawyers consider this arrest a blatant violation of the Criminal Procedural Code and the RF Constitution, as the given shares are owned by foreign investors of the Yukos Oil Company, Yukos Universal Limited and Hully Enterprises, that, as is widely known, belong to a group of private investors the majority of whom have nothing to do with Khodorkovsky”. According to Mikhail Borshchevsky, a well-known lawyer representing the government in the Constitutional, Supreme and Supreme Arbitration Court, the arrest of shares owned by foreign legal entities constitutes a violation of the law, and it would also be disputable even if they were owned by Khodorkovsky.
Placing a lengthy document about the Khodorkovsky case (which, in fact, resembles a summary of an indictment) at the disposal of the “Interfax” Information Agency on the day following the day of his arrest, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia obviously transgressed the presumption of innocence principle. According to experts, tax evasion charges, in the part related to the techniques of tax evasion, incriminated to Khodorkovsky, can well be brought against millions of Russian businessmen. Unprecedented actions of the Prosecutor’s Office which arrested the controlling interest of the Yukos stock on the grounds that it “actually belongs to Khodorkovsky”, though legally it is owned by foreign companies, is another argument in favour of the assumption that one of the objectives of the anti-Yukos campaign is a latent confiscation of Khodorkovsky’s property.
In early November 2003, RF Deputy Prosecutor General, Vladimir Kolesnikov, made a public statement about the investigation of the so-called “M. Khodorkovsky case”, in which Vladimir Kolesnikov ideologically justified the persecution of “Yukos”. He called for nationalisation of private property and accused the rich of the privations suffered by millions of citizens, intimating that if need be, the defendants in the “Yukos” case will be kept in jail pending trial for as long as two years, and threatened to confiscate “superprofits” of the citizens of the country, and directly threatened those who “were not yet in jail”. One of the most scandalous passages in this statement was Kolesnikov’s regret “that, unfortunately, it will not be possible to sentence Khodorkovsky to more than 10 years”.
2. Provocations against Defence Counsels
On October 31, 2003, investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor General attempted to interrogate Vyacheslav Patskov, an attorney from Volgograd. According to Patskov, they wanted details about the circumstances of the Alexei Pichugin case (Alexei Pichugin was a security officer at the Yukos Oil Company). The attorney said that in the morning he had been summoned to the Investigation Department of the Office of the Prosecutor General. The investigator began asking him questions about Pichugin. Patskov did not answer those questions and then he was not allowed to leave the premises of the Prosecutor’s Office. Investigator Yuri Burtovoy suggested they should “have a talk”, underlining that it was not “an interrogation”. According to Patskov, the investigator began asking such questions as: what were Pichugin, Shestopalov (a senior officer of the Yukos Oil Company Security Service), Leonid Nevzlin (former Deputy Chairman of the Yukos Board). Patskov says that after the “talk” he was asked to a sign a “record of the interrogation”, which he refused to do. However, according to him, the record was signed by the two witnesses who had been present during the conversation. After that Patskov was allowed to leave. Learning about another attempt to interrogate the attorney, the lawyers’ community provided him with defence counsels. V. Patskov communicated that he was going to write to the Prosecutor General Victor Ustinov “about this unlawful 6-hour detention and attempted interrogation”. According to the lawyer, the summons to the Prosecutor’s Office was connected with the investigation of the case of his defendant Evgeny Reshetnikov, who had been convicted by the Moscow City Court in 2000 for an attempt on the life of a “MENATEP” employee Rybin. In summer Reshetnikov was transported to Moscow from the colony and interrogated a few times about the circumstances of the murder attempt. Pichugin is also charged with the attempt on Rybin’s life.
On November 11, 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s attorney, Olga Artyukhova, was subjected to a personal search on the premises of SIZO # 77-4 “Matrosskaya Tishina”. According to officials from law-enforcement bodies, after the attorney met with her client, a note was confiscated from her, allegedly written by the former Head of Yukos, containing “instructions aimed at obstructing the investigation by bringing pressure on the participants of the criminal proceedings who were not yet in jail". RF Deputy Minister of Justice Yuri Kalinin confirmed the confiscation of the note, claiming the latter “was of interest for the investigation”, and saying that the note had already been forwarded to the Office of Prosecutor General.
Attorney Drel called unlawful the search of Olga Artyukhova and said that it was her private working notes that had been confiscated, and not a letter written by Mr. Khodorkovsky.
The attorney of the ex-Head of Yukos, Olga Artyukhova, reports that she had not taken a note from Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “They have confiscated all my documents related to the defence. Khodorkovsky did not give me any note”. The expert examination of the handwriting has confirmed that all the materials were written by her and not by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
March 22, 2004
Attorneys Evgeny Baru and Yuri Schmidt, visiting their clients in SIZO “Matrosskaya Tishina” were subjected to an examination. According to the President of the Bar Chamber Henry Reznik, the examination was unlawful: “As a result, all their files relating to their professional activity and protected by the lawyer secrecy were confiscated”.
According to President of the Bar Chamber Henry Reznik, he is absolutely sure that the orders were issued by the law-enforcement bodies. "Perpetrating such arbitrary actions, SIZO officers are jeopardising the verdict that will be passed in the M. Khodorkovsky case. Russia is doomed to a thrashing in Strasbourg, remarked H. Reznik. He did not rule out a possibility that the lawyers will mount a suit to defend their lawful rights that have been violated.
3. The Situation Today
All appeals of the defence to have the measure of restraint for Lebedev and Khodorkovsky changed to any form other than custodial restraint were dismissed by the court of the first instance (Basmanny District Court of Moscow) and confirmed by the second instance (Moscow City Court) under the pretext that the defendants could leave the country (though their passports had been confiscated) and put pressure on witnesses. After the case was transferred to the Meshchanski District Court of Moscow, the Court did not even look into the motivation lying behind the custodial restraint of Lebedev and Khodorkovsky, simply ruling to “leave the measure of restraint unaltered”.
On May 13, 2004, Chairman of the Board of “MENATEP”, Platon Lebedev, protesting against the violation of this lawful rights (a seriously ill man, he was allowed to familiarise with the materials of the case only on the premises of the court of law), was forced to sign the judicial record confirming that he had familiarised with the 163 volumes of “his criminal case”, though in reality he had not reviewed the materials of the case. In response to the numerous appeals to change the measure of restraint for Lebedev and let him out of jail due to a dramatic deterioration of the state of his health, the court immediately limited the time allowed for the familiarisation with the case materials. At the end of June Lebedev was moved to a common cell accommodating 20 inmates.
On July 12, 2004, the day the new hearings began, the court dismissed the appeal of Lebedev’s defence counsels requesting an independent medical examination of the defendant, necessitated by a suspicion of an oncological disease, Lebedev’s release from custody and adjournment of the trial. After the expiration in July this year of the 10-year statute of limitations of the charges of criminal fraud against Yukos’ key shareholders, only tax exemption can be incriminated to them, which cannot justify their custodial restraint.
We are positive that prosecution of P.L. Lebedev and M.B. Khodorkovsky, and primarily, their detention in custody pending court verdict, and other violations of the law and their interests protected by the law, as well as of the rights of their attorneys, are indicative of a selective and biased application of legal norms and are accompanied by numerous violations of the existing legislation. Moreover almost all instances of the violations of the rights of the attorneys in the past year (June 2003 – June 2004) – unlawful detentions, unlawful searches and examinations, coercion to reveal materials of the defence, and confiscation of the materials of the defence had been committed in respect of the defence counsels in the “Yukos case”. The only “momentous” exception - the unlawful arrest on October 22, 2003, of the defence counsel defending victims of terrorist attacks of September 1999, attorney Mikhail Trepashkin, according to many Russian public figures, human rights activists and lawyers, also had a political background.
The selective character of the application of the law to Lebedev and Khodorkovsky is confirmed by the fact that other executives and shareholders of the Yukos Oil Company, including those with similar charges, have not been put into custody during the investigation and trial. This refers to Andrei Krainov, billionaire Vasily Shakhnovsky, former head of “Yukos-Moscow” and the longstanding companion-in-arms of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
The selective character of the tough prosecution of the top managers of “Yukos ” is proved by the fact that according to preliminary estimates of the Russian Auditing Chamber, all privatisation transactions of the mid-nineties concerning 140 enterprises were concluded with a certain deviation from the norm of the law. However, top executives from other financial and business corporations are not prosecuted for transgressing the privatisation law. Moreover, according to the same source, over 90% of privatisation violations were committed by bureaucrats, however criminal proceedings have not been instituted against any of them.
Criminal repressions against the “Yukos” Oil Company’s shareholders have been accompanied by administrative pressure. Pressured by the RF Ministry of Education, the staff of the State Humanities University was forced to dismiss in November 2003 Leonid Nevzlin from the post of the Rector, and to give up the 10-year 100-million-dollar grant that it needed badly.
According to numerous experts, all the above is due exclusively to political reasons. Both Russian and Western commentators are practically unanimous about the key reasons for Khodorkovsky’s arrest being “his interference in politics” and unwillingness to compromise with representatives of the “security officials” group in the immediate environment of the President. Another sign of a hidden political motive in the “Yukos case” is that according to a plan developed by Putin’s close associate.
Immediately after Khodorkovsky’s arrest hundreds of representatives from Russian human rights organisations – participants of the All-Russian Conference of Civil Organisations - supported statements to the effect that repressions against him violate the Russian procedural law and the European Convention, and are connected with his convictions and his fundamental stand on the interaction between the powers that be and the civil society.
The conclusion about the hidden political motives is confirmed by the results of the open hearings held in Moscow on June 29, 2004, on the initiative of human rights organisations. These hearings have revealed that the prosecution of Khodorkovsky is aimed at impacting the political situation in the country, and is directly related to his public activities and unequivocal and open support of democratic principles. The materials of the Hearings are attached hereto.
In the context of the above, we are calling on the “Amnesty International” to recognise RF citizens Platon Leonidovitch Lebedev and Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky, as political prisoners.
1. Address of the All-Russian Conference of Civil Organisations
2. Address of the Initiative Group “Common Action”
3. Shorthand record of the Public Hearings
Elena Bonner, Andrei Sakharov Foundation
Andrei Babushkin, Committee “For Human Rights”
Svetlana Gannushkina, Committee “Civic Assistance”
Lev Ponomarov, Executive Director,
All-Russian Public Movement “For Human Rights”
Yury Samodurov, Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre
Sergei Sorokin, Movement against Violence
Alexander Tkachenko, writer
Uliy Ryibakov, Human Rights Activist,
Ernst Chernyi, “Ecology & Human Rights”
Rev. Gleb Yakunin, Public Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience