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M. Khodorkovsky convicted: the trial was won by the enemies of the rule of law, says rapporteur

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Germany, LDR), rapporteur on behalf of the PACE's Committee on Legal Affairs on the proceedings against former Yukos executives, today reacted to the nine year prion sentence against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. 

"The trial against the former leading executives of Yukos, the oil company that is meanwhile almost totally dismantled, was won by the enemies of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The proceedings tainted by numerous shortcomings regarding the rule of law, as well as the sentence meted out by the court constitute a merciless act of revenge against a man who has openly stood up against the policies of Russia’s President Putin.

The nine year sentence pronounced by the court falls just short of the maximum penalty requested by the prosecution. The court’s reasoning replicates almost word by word the pleadings of the prosecution.

This judgment massively undermines trust in Russia and must not be the last word in these proceedings. It must be a wake-up call for all those who have until now seen Russia wholly uncritically as a “cristal-clear democracy”.

In a Resolution adopted in January 2005 with a two-thirds majority, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly pointed out massive violations of rule of law principles in these criminal proceedings, and invited the Committee of Ministers, i.e. the European Governments, to call on the Russian Federation to carry out necessary judicial reforms aimed at strengthening the independence of the courts.

The judgement shows that there is no legal certainty in Russia. German business must take note of this and be cautious as regards investments."

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