Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"A chaotic court case"

I bet it was chaotic. On the one hand you have the Russian oligarch and perpetual thorn in President Prime Minister Putin's side, Boris Berezovsky and on the other a Russian TV and Radio Company that had broadcast a programme in which Berezovsky was accused of commissioning the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. The TV company refused to take part and the man who had made the accusation was left to defend his own case. As against that, we had the Russian Prosecutor's office trying to interfere though they had no standing in the case.
The two-week trial was almost anarchic at times as officials from the Russian prosecutors' office repeatedly intervened despite not being party to proceedings. So obvious was their intention that when one of their mobile phones went off in court one day, Browne quipped: "That must be Mr Putin on the line."

At least three Russian prosecutors were in court each day to assist Vladimir Terluk, the man accused of giving the contentious interview about Berezovsky's bogus asylum claim. They whispered in Terluk's ear, passed him notes and smirked or laughed as the evidence was heard.

At one point they asked for the opportunity to cross-examine Berezovsky. "I thought that a step too far," said Eady in his judgment.

Terluk, a Kazakh who came to the UK to seek asylum in 1999, had been left to defend the libel action alone and without a lawyer after the Russian Television and Radio Company refused to take part.

He denied being "Pyotr", the man in the offending broadcast, yet maintained that everything Pyotr said was true, including "that [Berezovsky's] associates tried to organised the falsification of the assassination plot with the purpose of obtaining refugee status by Mr Berezovsky and his associates … and the late Mr Litvinenko himself was the one who was trying actively to implement that falsification".
Unsurprisingly, Berezovsky has won his case.

For those who would like a clear description of a court case that involves Russians at loggerheads with each other and everyone else, let me recommend a brilliant novel: A Bullet in the Ballet by Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon, the quintessential work of fiction (some think a documentary) for all those who want to know about Russia.

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