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Aleksei Pichugin: Letter to the authors of the list of political prisoners

Vera Vasilievа, 19/03/12


· Yukos case  · Prisoners  · Political prisoners 

In February of this year journalist Olga Romanova and State Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov handed a list of political prisoners to the presidential administration. These people have been deemed political prisoners by Memorial Human Rights Centre and the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners which put together this list and were also the organisers of, and participants, in the protest meetings at Bolotnaya Square. The editorial office of has in its possession a letter from one of the people featured on this list - former Yukos employee Aleksei Pichugin.

To Olga Romanova and everyone else who drafted the letter containing the list of political prisoners - my deepest respects! I can't begin to express my feelings in words. Of course, my gratitude and appreciation goes out to all those who are doing everything, possible and impossible, for those of us who have found ourselves in such misfortune...

The list of political prisoners, which numbers over 30 individuals, was handed to the Kremlin on 8 February. In addition to Aleksei Pichugin, on the list were the former co-owners of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, and Yukos employees Vladimir Malakhovsky and Aleksei Kurtsin; academics accused of espionage Valentin Danilov, Sergey Vizir and Igor Reshetin; Other Russia activist Taisiya Osipova from Smolensk who is being held on dubious charges of drug dealing; Sergei Mokhnatkin who took part in a Strategy-31 protest on Triumphalnaya Square in Moscow and ended up being accused of assaulting a police officer; and many others.

On 5 March information emerged in the press that acting President Dmitry Medvedev had signed a series of orders as a result of his meeting with leaders of the unregistered opposition. In particular, the President ordered the Prosecutor General's Office to investigate the validity of a number of convictions, including those of members of the opposition on the list of political prisoners. By 1 April, the prosecutors must carry out an analysis of the lawfulness and validity of the convictions brought by the courts against these Russian citizens. Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has been commissioned to carry out this order.

According to a report by Vedomosti, on 12 March the political prisoners on this list had been given "signals" from the Kremlin that they could be released early if they lodged a petition for a presidential pardon. Vedomosti commented that there is no special format for a petition for pardon and it does not require any acknowledgement of guilt.

Citing Olga Romanova, Vedomosti confirmed that the pardon and release of several people on the list is being discussed, these being: Sergei Mokhnatkin, Dmitry Baranovsky, Sergei Arakcheev and Taisiya Osipova.

Aleksei Pichugin's lawyers Dmitry Kurepin and Ksenia Kostromina also commented on Dmitry Medvedev's directive to Yury Chaika. According to the RAPSI news agency, Dmitry Kurepin is not expecting anything sensational to happen as a result of the President's order.

"There are doubts about the feasibility of this investigation precisely because it is the Prosecutor General's Office that has been commissioned to carry it out - the very department that supported the accusations brought against Pichugin in both trials," said Dmitry Kurepin.

He was backed up by his colleague Ksenia Kostromina, who also said she did not understand what the legal implications of such a review might be.

"The legality of the convictions that have already come into force will be reviewed by the Prosecutor General's Office, which was repeatedly informed by the defence about various violations, but nevertheless ignored them. If, after all this, the Prosecutor General's Office suddenly exercises its supervisory capacity and comes out with an appeal against the conviction indicating that violations nevertheless took place, then this would be a brave move and I would only be happy," Kostromina noted.

According to comments by Aleksei Pichugin's lawyers in a previous interview with, their client has never considered the option of applying for a pardon.
Rights in Russia,
21 Mar 2012, 12:17