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The Prime Minister Must Obey the Law

Source: (info), 20/12/10

· Human Rights Defenders · Yukos Case

“Vladimir Putin should be dismissed immediately for seeking to influence the court and for defamation of the defendant Mikhail Khodorkovsky,” a group of human rights defenders has declared.

Today* V. V. Putin, the head of government of the Russian Federation, committed two very serious violations of the law. Speaking as a public official he put pressure on the justice system ten days before the announcement of the verdict, when he openly declared that the guilt of Mikhail Khodorkovsky had already been proven in court; in addition he slandered Mikhail Khodorkovsky, calling him a “thief” and indirectly accusing him of complicity in a number of murders.

Such behaviour sets a precedent for other government officials.

The fact that Putin tried to cunningly disguise the quite unequivocal content of his speech changes nothing.

It is well known that those who benefited from the liquidation of the Yukos oil company have been people close to the Prime Minister. It is possible that this is the main explanation for his unprecedented behaviour.

We demand the immediate resignation of Putin. Without this, no serious talk of the rule of law in our country will be possible.

We fully understand the naivety of our demands in the current political situation, but we consider it necessary to bring to public attention our legal and civic position.

We believe that after Russia returns to the principles of law and democracy, all those involved in the falsification of the trials in the Yukos case will face justice.

Ludmila Alekseeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Foundation for Prisoners’ Rights

Sergei Kovalev, Public Commission for the Preservation of the Heritage of A. D. Sakharov

Svetlana Gannushkina, Chair of the Civic Assistance Committee, member of the Board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre

Oleg Orlov, Chair of the Council of the Memorial Human Rights Centre

Valery Borshchev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Social Partnership Foundation

Lev Ponomarev, All-Russian Movement For Human Rights

Yury Vdovin, Civic Control, member of the St Petersburg Human Rights Council

Liliya Shibanova, Voice Association

Boris Zolotukhin, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Father Gleb Yakunin, Public Commission for Freedom of Conscience

Nina Katerli, writer, member of the St Petersburg Pen Club

Aleksei Devotchenko, Honoured Artist of Russia

Boris Vishnevsky, Novaya gazeta columnist, member of the Yabloko Party bureau

20 December 2010

*During a live TV programme on 16 December in which Prime Minister Putin spoke with members of the public.

The list of signatures of this statement can be added to at:
Rights in Russia,
21 Dec 2010, 14:22