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"To make a mountain, you at least need a molehill"


Author: Yury Shmidt, 07/09/10

· Yukos Case · Political Prisoners · St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region

Yury Shmidt, lawyer: “There is not even a hint of any evidence incriminating Mikhail Khodorkovsky - I would even add: no evidence against Leonid Nevzlin or Aleksei Pichugin, either”

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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that former businessman Mikhail Khodorkosky has “blood on his hands.” These words of the Prime Minister were cited by Alexander Rahr, an expert of the German Council on Foreign Relations, who participated in a meeting with Putin in the framework of the Valdai Discussion Club. At the same time Putin said that Khodorkovsky's case was in the hands of the courts and he, the Prime Minister, will not intervene in this matter. It should be noted, however, that Khodorkovsky has not been convicted, and he is not now on trial, on charges of being involved in murders. Failure to pay taxes and theft of oil, whether these crimes were committed or not, do not constitute “blood on one’s hands”. These serious allegations from the lips of Putin addressed to Khodorkovsky have been heard before, but in a veiled form. In 2009, during a phone in question and answer session, Putin reminded his audience about the former head of security at Yukos, Aleksei Pichugin, who was convicted of organizing murders, without naming him. Then the Prime Minister said: “Do you think that he was acting alone, at his own risk? He had no particular interests. He was not the main shareholder in the company. It is clear that he was acting on behalf of and as directed by his bosses. At least five murders were proven.” 

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Yury Schmidt, Khodorkovsky's lawyer: “There is no evidence of guilt whatsoever”

If the leader, or one of the leaders, of any democratic Western state allowed himself to make a statement like this, it would be a huge scandal and could have very serious consequences for him. But in our country, Mr. Putin allows himself to say whatever he wants, knowing full well that no one can prevent him from doing this. You cannot take him to court, and there is no real opposition movement which could give this the publicity it deserves. At the same time, I regard Putin's statement as a kind of cry of despair, even though every day he is mouthing some news or other about the Khodorkovsky case. Not long ago he suddenly announced that he knew nothing at all about the second trial and that he found out about it quite by chance and was very surprised. This was, of course, an outright lie. I am convinced that Putin knows and receives regular reports about the Yukos case. Obviously, he knows that the second trial is practically collapsing from a legal point of view. He most probably knows what kind of negative public opinion has formed about those who are persecuting the accused and about the second trial, in particular in the West. And using the last chance to justify the illegal actions of the authorities and morally justify the prosecution of Khodorkovsky, Putin has already said something similar some time ago. True, he didn’t mention Khodorkovsky by name but only spoke about the Yukos leadership. Now he has decided to name him directly, thinking that all around there are fools who did not understand whom, strictly speaking, he had in mind when he aimed his previous blow.

And I can also say I shall soon have been working on this case for seven years. I participated in some of the investigations that were conducted into the murder case. In particular, I was a lawyer for the father of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and was present at the interrogations which the General Prosecutor's Office conducted in this case. I have studied in detail the materials of the case based on the book by Valery Shiryaev, deputy director general of
Novaya Gazeta. And more recently I came across a book that gives a most detailed analysis of all the evidence in the case of Aleksei Pichugin and Leonid Nevzlin (Apparently, this is the book by Vera Vasilieva, Without witnesses? Notes by a Spectator of a Trial in Absentia – ed./ I can say that a huge number of investigative and operational staff worked on this investigation. If I say that the numbers involved were in the hundreds, it would not be an exaggeration. It really takes a great master to make a mountain out of a molehill, but to make a mountain you at least need a molehill. There is not even a hint of any evidence incriminating Mikhail Khodorkovsky - I would even add: no evidence against Leonid Nevzlin or Aleksei Pichugin, either. Unless, that is, you consider the completely delusional allegations of hard-bitten, recidivist criminals, who mostly make their statements based allegedly on the words of dead people whom it is impossible to question. But in the case of Khodorkovsky there is not even a hint either of evidence or of motives, nothing at all. I contend that if it had been possible to make a case that needed answering in any way at all, then this would have already been done long ago.

Source: Ezhednevyi zhurnal
Rights in Russia,
9 Sept 2010, 14:01