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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Amazing Amsterdam Slays Serpant Schroeder

As PR NEWSWIRE reports, Robert Amsterdam has exposed the malignant activity of former German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, now on the Kremlin's payroll, in spewing neo-Soviet propaganda:

In a speech before a large crowd of policy experts today in Washington DC with Former Economic Adviser to Russian President Andrei Illarionov, Lawyer Robert Amsterdam will respond to recent comments made by the former Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, which Amsterdam says represent the latest in a well funded campaign of lies and distortion aimed at undermining Mikhail Khodorkovsky's integrity. "Mr. Schroeder's attempts to introduce humor to the plight of a man who is illegally imprisoned in the Russian gulag represents the most obscene of insults," said Mr. Amsterdam. According to press reports in Germany this month, Mr. Schroeder made the following comments in regards to Russia and Mr. Khodorkovsky: "We nick tax evaders as well. However, we do not have Siberia at our disposal." Mr. Amsterdam said, "The mask has come off and Mr. Schroeder has exposed himself as a Kremlin sycophant -- a sponsor of the gulag and an underwriter of impunity and corruption." Mr. Schroeder is facing significant criticism in Germany for accepting a position as Chair of the Shareholder Committee of the North European Gas Pipeline, a Russian-led consortium, just weeks after extending a $1.2 billion credit to the project while holding public office. In his speech today in Washington, Mr. Amsterdam will state that it was a lack of a moral compass on behalf of the former leader of Germany that was in part responsible for the treatment of Mr. Khodorkovsky.

Three years ago, Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested, then subjected to a show trial replete with severe violations of due process and disrespect for fundamental rights, and subsequently imprisoned in Siberia. Mr. Khodorkovsky's company, Yukos, previously one of the world's largest oil companies, was broken up and most of it has been expropriated. According to an independent report by a Council of Europe rapporteur on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khodorkovsky's arrest and trial, the objectives of the Russian authorities were "to weaken an outspoken political opponent, intimidate other wealthy individuals and regain control of strategic economic assets."

Mr. Amsterdam pointed out that before he was arrested, Mr. Khodorkovsky's company paid more taxes annually than any other private company in Russia, with alleged tax arrears of $8 tax for every $1 income in 2004, and that his client was a leader in bringing corporate governance and transparency to Russian business. "Is this the kind of person that Mr. Schroeder wants jailed in Siberia? Does Mr. Schroeder support 800% corporate tax rates?"

Other German politicians support Amsterdam's position. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the FDP Steering Committee and former German Minister of Justice, issued the following statement: "I explicitly appreciate the strong criticism of the attorney of Mr. Khodorkovsky, Robert Amsterdam, concerning the behavior of former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

In the past Mr. Schroeder had closed his eyes regarding the massive lack of rule of law and human rights in contemporary Russia. Now he damages the democratic development of Russia by mocking and twitting victims of the insufficient rule of law such as Mr. Khodorkovsky." Robert Amsterdam is a founding partner of the law firm Amsterdam & Peroff, with offices in Toronto and London.

Amsterdam's new blog is required reading for those interested in finding out about the behind-the-scenes machinations as neo-Soviet Russia weaponizes its energy resources for renewed confrontation with the West. The above story is based on Amsterdam's speech at the CATO Institute with Andrei Illarionov; for a podcast, click here. He also gave an excellent interview to European Voice emphasizing how European energy firms can play role in the protection of human rights in Russia.

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