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“For us the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev has become a symbol of injustice”

Appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev by public figures from Perm region in support of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.

Dear Mr. President!

The second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev is drawing to a close. These days many prominent people in Russia are appealing to you with one request: to stop the unjust punishment of citizens indicted with such completely absurd charges as stealing from themselves all the oil extracted in the course of 6 years, while earning profits and paying taxes at the same time.

We live almost two thousand kilometres from Moscow and, for obvious reasons, have not been able to observe the trial in person. But even the reports in our local press – which is far from the boldest – have been enough for us to realize that due process of law has increasingly given way to politics, and that before our eyes an unjust punishment is being finalized for the fact that the defendants held certain beliefs and attempted to influence the political processes in the country. This is not to mention those who "privatized" the property of Yukos and fabulously enriched themselves through this gangland expropriation.

Whether you want it or not, Mr President, for all of us the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev has become a symbol of injustice. As you know, in recent years thousands of people who have allegedly committed economic crimes have undergone similar unjust prosecution. Your attempts to change this judicial practice have been to no avail.

Our domestic justice system continues to demonstrate a bias towards the prosecution, a dependence on those in power, and a painful suspiciousness and contempt for those who wish to set up their own business and provide, not only for themselves and their family through their earnings, but also for dozens, for hundreds of specialists and workers.

It is true we have not had the opportunity to personally observe the course of the trial. But we fully trust the opinion of the prominent human rights defender Ludmila Alekseeva who, in her regular reports from the court sessions published in the press, has clearly set down all the false arguments used by the prosecution.

We join with the well-known and respected people who today appeal to you, Mr. President, demanding an end to the unjust punishment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. The opinions of writers Daniil Granin, Boris Strugatsky, Fazil Iskander, the human rights defender Sergei Kovalev, film directors Pavel Lungin, Eldar Ryazanov, people’s artists Oleg Basilashvili, Liya Akhedzhakova, Inna Churikova and many others cannot be ignored.

We, residents of Perm, a city of a million inhabitants, stand together with those who keenly feel injustice and who refuse to permit a return to the style and practice of judicial abuses of the 1930s.

This letter to the President of the Russian Federation from public figures of the city of Perm has been signed by:

Initiative group -
Nina Gorlanova, writer
Aleksandr Kalikh, Memorial Society
Irina Kizilova, human rights defender
Robert Latypov, Youth Memorial
Andrei Suslov, doctor of historical sciences, professor
Igor Ternavsky, artistic director of the Perm Puppet Theater
Maria Cheremnykh, director of Youth Creative Studio, “Rhetoric and Us”