Thursday, December 30, 2010

Khodorkovsky's sentence extended

This needs more discussion but here is the news: a Moscow court has announced that Mikhail Khodorkovsy's sentence was being extended by six more years, only 18 months less than the maximum demanded by the prosecution.
The ruling indicates the Kremlin is showing no sign of easing its pressure on Mr. Khodorkovsky and his OAO Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company. The seven-year legal assault that has been seen as one of the highest-profile in the Kremlin's crackdown on opponents.

Western governments on Thursday renewed their criticism of the case. "The impression remains that political motives played a role in this process," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

In a statement Thursday, the U.S. State Department added: "We remain concerned by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends."

Western officials said, however, the ruling isn't expected to have a major impact on relations.
Or a minor impact either. Nothing will have any kind of impact on relations with the Putin-Medvedev run Russia.
The Yukos case is likely to continue to haunt the Kremlin for years in Western courts. Appeals already are pending against Mr. Khodorkovsky's first conviction—in 2005 on charges of tax evasion and fraud—in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. That court also is considering a claim for $98 billion in damages from the company that had held his stake in Yukos. Billions of dollars in other investor claims are pending in Western arbitration panels.

Several Western courts that have already ruled in related cases have said Russian courts' handling of the cases appeared politically motivated and unjust.
Russian officials insist that there is nothing political in their campaign against Khodorkovsky and Yukos - they are merely cleaning up corruption. It just so happens that they have not been able to get round to any other case of corruption and Khodorkovsy is conveniently in prison already.

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