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Remembering Vasily Aleksanyan

Source: (info), 04/10/11

· Human rights defenders The Yukos affair Political prisoners

· Public Prosecutor’s Office Moscow city & Moscow region

Vasily Aleksanyan, former political prisoner, former executive vice–president of the Yukos oil company, has died. He was 39 years old. “Had it not been for the terrible conditions in the pre–trial detention facility, it is possible Aleksanyan’s life could have been saved,” says human rights defender Valery Borshchev.

The television channel Dozhd was the first to broadcast that Vasily Aleksanyan had died, having learnt the news from his family. Aleksanyan died at home in Moscow.

Vasily Aleksanyan was arrested in 2006 during investigations into Yukos. The Chief Public Prosecutors’s Office charged him with two offences – money laundering and embezzlement.

In September 2006, Vasily Aleksanyan was diagnosed as having HIV in a late stage of development. Aleksanyan’s health significantly deteriorated during his incarceration. He practically became blind; he also developed liver cancer and tuberculosis. Nonetheless, according to, the authorities refused to release him from prison.

According to, Aleksanyan testified that the prosecution put pressure on him to give false testimony against the former head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and against the head of Menatep, Platon Lebedev, in exchange for his own release and medical treatment.

Gravely ill, Aleksanyan was released from pre-trial detention only in 2008 on bail set at 50 million (!) roubles. A wide range of groups of activists collected money for his bail. Moscow City Court agreed to release Aleksanyan, critically ill, whose guilt had not been proven by the court, only upon payment of the huge sum. In response, activists initiated a large–scale solidarity campaign for Vasily Aleksanyan.

In 2010 the case against Aleksanyan was dropped due to the statute of limitations. After the case was dropped, the bail money was returned to Aleksanyan’s family.

“When Moscow City Court made this decision to release Aleksanyan on the bail for the monstrous sum of 50 million roubles, we were not aware that the European Court of Human Rights had pronounced Vasily’s arrest and the extension of his pre-trial detention unlawful. But the Russian side, including the Prosecutor’s Office, were aware of the European Court’s decision, and that is why the Russian court took the decision to release him,” Aleksanyan’s former lawyer, Elena Lvova, recalls, according to “At that time I advised them not to pay the bail, but to fight for the implementation of the European Court’s decision. I said: ‘Vasia, you have to be patient.’ But he responded that each day of freedom was more important for him.”

“Had it not been for the terrible conditions in the pre–trial detention facility, it is possible Aleksanyan’s life could have been saved,” Valery Borshchev, a member of the President’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, told the radio station Echo of Moscow.
Rights in Russia,
13 Oct 2011, 14:16