It’s not a joke, it’s the Kremlin

16 05 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily of May 16th, 2007 (page 2)
Author: Tomasz Bielecki in Moscow
Translation: Społem

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Russian public prosecutor’s office seeks revenge on lawyer Karinna Moskalenko. She has courage to represent Kremlin’s political enemies in courts.

Moscow investigators don’t bother themselves with keeping up appearances. They accuse the barrister of… not defending her client Michail Khodorkovski good enough. Khodorkowski was the owner of Yukos oil corporation, who in 2005 was sentenced to eight years in lager-prison for being a political competition to Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors for almost a month have been demanding for her to be debarred, which means she would lose the right to represent people in Russian courts of justice. – ‘When I heard of this for the first time I thought I thought this was a silly joke’ – Moskalenko told Gazeta yesterday. Prosecutor General accuses her, that she had abandoned Khodorkovski during his February hearings in a syberian town of Chika (near the lager, where Khodorkovski serves his sentence), that she “didn’t fulfil her duties as a barrister”.

Moskalenko explaines, that the imprisoned oligarch was accopanied then by three other lawyers, and that her departure from Chika was agreed upon with Khodorkovski. – ‘Suddenly the prosecutors, who have persecuted him from several years, start to pretend to care for his welfare. This is a material for a grotesque play’ – says the Russian lawyer.

Karinna Moskalenko is the president of Russian Institute for International Legal Defence. The Institute helps Russians facing political repression in fighting justice before international courts.

She defends not only Khodorkovski. She also leads cases of opposition activists, who are being dragged through courts for illegal demonstrations. She represents the families of the victims of Nord-Ost Theatre terrorist attack on Dubrovka, who want a fair trial for police forces involved. Their incompetence and urge to liquidate terrorists fast caused – as say the relatives of the victims – the death of many hostages.

What do the prosecutors venge for? For Khodorkovski? For Dubrovka? – ‘I’m not sure. Since the nineties I’ve been dealing with difficult cases, and apparently I got into their bad books big time. However I don’t feel anything threatens me, even though maybe I should’ – says Moskalenko.

The law lecturer, who at least once a month appears in Strasbourg to fight for the rights of Russians before the International Tribunal of Justice, believes that even in Russia you don’t have to be at the mercy of Kremlin.

Two months ago, to the surprise of of Russian opposition, a group of lawyers including Karinna Moskalenko, have won a case in Moscow against the Prosecutor General. Also a court has decided that the trial against Khodorkovski cannot proceed in siberian Chika, but in Moscow. Which is important, because the trial against Putin’s political enemy can be observed by journalists, and Kremlin’s authoritarian practices will once again make headlines around the world.

Russian public prosecutor’s office has already twice tried to debar Khodorkovski’s lawyers. However the Moscow Bar had strongly rejected its motions. Moskalenko hopes it will be the same this time.

Wouldn’t it be easier to defend thieves, thugs and hooligans? – ‘Few days ago a court fined Garri Kasparov for his participation in an “illegal demonstration”. I found out about this in Strasbourg, from where one can see better how far we are from Europe. In my country the rule of law cannot look like this. Once again I had this thought in my head, that I will not gibe up my fight’.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 

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