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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Robert Amsterdam Exposes Neo-Soviet Attack on Khodorkovsky Defense Team

Robert Amsterdam reports:

Today we are posting an exclusive 9-page PDF of the latest motion filed by Karinna Moskalenko in regards to the ongoing harassment, gag orders, acts of intimidation, false statements, and interference on behalf of the Russian authorities toward counsel in this case.

Given this fundamental disregard for an individual's right to properly defend himself, I believe the conduct of the procuracy of the Russian Federation in this case can be compared to that of an organized criminal group, one whose activities should be condemned by every prosecutorial organization that attempts to uphold the rule of law.

The Kremlin is clearly applying some lessons learned from the first round of attacks on Khodorkovsky and Yukos. Lesson No. 1 - when you want to want to carry out a highly unlawful show trial of a political prisoner, do so out of the public eye. For this reason the upcoming hearings will be taking place in the farthest reaches of Siberia, where the cancellation of a single flight can eliminate all observers (it is a violation of Russian law to hold the hearings in a different venue than the location of the alleged misconduct). Lesson No. 2 - when you want to invent perposterous new charges, make sure the media is barred from the proceedings. For this reason the next round of proceedings will be held inside the Chita Isolator prison facility, which will be able to deny the right of entry to anyone it chooses. Lesson No. 3 - when you want to make these ridiculous charges stick, begin an aggressive campaign of slander against the character of the defendent while at the same time prohibiting his lawyers from discussing the charges. For this reason, the procuracy has forced the Khodorkovsky defense team to sign a variety of strict non-disclosure agreements, which function as gag orders while the procuracy is free to speak to the media openly about the baseless allegations.

If there remains any question whatsoever about the immense importance of Mikhail Khodorkovsky to Russia and the rest of the world, consider carefully the enormous illegitimate lengths that Russian officials have gone to in order to bury the truth, hide evidence, and stifle public debate. If they had a real case to try, none of this would be necessary.

The arbitrary arrests of both Yuri Schmidt and Karinna Moskalenko coming into and leaving Chita, simply to do their job of defending their client, are largely symbolic of the fraud and deception that has come to characterize the Russian procuracy. As someone who has worked under this environment of intimidation and hostility toward lawyers, I strongly urge all those in the legal sector reading these words to contact every professional organization of which they are members to denounce this unacceptable conduct, and demand security and fair treatment toward all lawyers working on politically sensitive cases in Russia.

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