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Friday, September 22, 2006

Putley on Bakhmina

David McDuff's blog One Step at a Time contains a letter from reader Jeremy Putley to the Financial Times regarding the Kremlin's assault on Yukos attorney Svetlana Bakhmina. Bakhima's story is that of one of Neo-Soviet Russia's first victims, and it is a cause that deserves ongoing attention. Jailing the lawyer of a person the state doens't like is a signal hallmark of crude authoritarian dictatorship and demonstrates that nobody is safe from the Kremlin's petulant, wrath, just as in Soviet times.

Putley writes as follows (shame on the FT for failing to publish it!):


In your second editorial today you are right to say that investors presented with the opportunity to buy into Russia’s oil riches, in the planned stock market flotation of Rosneft, must consider the moral dimension. It is not only the question of whether they will be buying “stolen goods”. There is also the matter of the abuse of legal process to persecute former Yukos employees, and not just Mikhail Khodorkovsky.It has not been widely reported that last week the Yukos lawyer, Svetlana Bakhmina, was sentenced by a Moscow court to seven years imprisonment in a labour camp. She had denied any wrongdoing. Now 36, she has been detained since 7 December 2004, and has not been allowed to see her two children, aged 3 and 7 in that time. Bail was refused for apparently no justifiable reason.The Russian opposition politician, Boris Nemtsov, is reported as saying that Ms Bakhmina does not deserve the sentence, which he calls an act of repression, considering it part of a campaign by the Kremlin aimed at intimidating business employees in order to prevent them from expressing independent views on society in Russia.This appalling case of abuse of legal process in a European capital should arguably carry rather more weight withinvestors even than the other matters that arise in considering potential investment in Russia, such as the unexplained exclusion from Russia of the investor Mr William Browder.

Jeremy Putley

McDuff continues the Bakhmina saga as follows:
Svetlana Bakhmina, the YUKOS lawyer sentenced to six and a half years of imprisonment in a labour camp, has appealed to a Moscow court to have her sentence deferred for nine years, until her youngest child reaches the age of 14, reports. Public figures and human rights activists in Russia have condemned the sentence given to Ms. Bakhmina, saying that she does not deserve it. Ms. Bakhmina herself has denied any wrongdoing. The Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has called it an act of repression, considering it part of a campaign by the Kremlin aimed at intimidating business employees in order to prevent them from expressing independent views on society in Russia.
It is truly mind-boggling the Kremlin could be so weak and cowardly that destroying Mikhail Khodorkovsky's company, himself and his family would not be enough; just like the mafia, the Kremlin cowards need to go after everyone associated with him, even the mothers of young children. More terrifying, the Kremlin couldn't care less about the public image this presents or how many nations and peoples it alienates in doing so. In other words, this act is an unmistakable echo of the way the USSR treated people like Solzhenitsyn, clear proof that Russians have learned nothing from the decades of despair they suffered under Soviet rule.

NB: No page exists in Wikipedia for Ms. Bakhmina. La Russophobe suggests to readers that somebody take the initiative to create one (anyone can do it, everyone can edit/help).

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