Home | Biography | In his own words... | The Case & trial |
Action you can take | FAQ | Links | Images | Extras | Contact

"Sovest" Group Campaign for Granting Political Prisoner Status to Mikhail Khodorkovsky

You consider Mikhail Khodorkovsky a political prisoner?
Write to the organisation "Amnesty International" !

Campagne d'information du groupe SOVEST

Your letter can help him.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Novosti : Khodorkovsky resigns from business union

MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti) - Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now serving an eight-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion, announced his resignation from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Monday, putting an end to speculation that he might be expelled in spring.

"Today, I am asking to be relieved of my duties as a member of the governing bureau of the RSPP," Khodorkovsky said in a statement posted on his press center's Web site.

He thanked the members of the bureau for supporting and not expelling him despite his arrest.

"I cannot remain in the governing bodies of this highly respected union for two reasons: I am no longer an industrialist or entrepreneur and I do not intend to run any profit-making businesses," he said in his statement. "From now on, I will only engage in public and political activities. Due to certain well-known circumstances, I will not be able to assist the RSPP in its work in organizational or financial terms."

Novosti, 10.31.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

The Times : Sent to Siberia: the oligarch who had it all - and lost it

By Jeremy Page
An imprisoned oligarch will not allow his spirit to be broken by jail, reports our correspondent

One man is a former Soviet dissident who spent four years in the gulags and fifteen working as a bus driver before becoming an Orthodox priest. The other is a former Communist youth activist who became the richest man in post-Soviet Russia before he fell foul of the Kremlin and was thrown in jail.

Father Sergei Taratukhin, 49, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 42, trod very different paths through the death throes of the Soviet Union and the birth of a new Russian state. But yesterday these two victims of Russia’s turbulent politics came face to face in the unlikely setting of the YaG-14/10 penal colony in Krasnokamensk, a uranium mining town in eastern Siberia.

Father Sergei, the prison’s priest, met Khodorkovsky, its newest inmate, for the first time since he was transferred from Moscow on October 15 to serve out his sentence. As the two men talked for 20 minutes, an instant bond was formed between the priest imprisoned for challenging the Kremlin in 1974 and the oil tycoon jailed for the same in President Putin’s Russia.

“When I was in the prison camp, the KGB men used to say they dreamt of a day when political prisoners would be treated like ordinary criminals,” Father Sergei told The Times. “Now their dream has come true.”

His was a lone sympathetic voice in Krasnokamensk, a town of 65,000 people built in the 1960s near the Russian border with China and Mongolia. This dusty settlement of wooden cottages and concrete high-rises was a closed military town in Soviet times, and most residents despise the oligarchs who profited from the Union’s collapse.

Khodorkovsky accused the Kremlin this week of trying to break his spirit by sending him here rather than to a prison near his home in Moscow or the court where he was convicted, as is the norm. “The Kremlin has tried to isolate me completely from the country and the people, and, what is more, they have tried to destroy me physically,” he said in a statement.

“They hope that Khodorkovsky will soon be forgotten,” he said. “They are trying to convince you, friends, that the fight is over. That you must resign yourselves to domination by a self-serving bureaucracy in Russia. This is not true. The fight is only just beginning.”

Earlier, he sarcastically thanked Russian authorities for sending him to a region where political prisoners have been exiled for almost 200 years. This was where Tsar Nicholas I sent the Decembrists — a group of reformist aristocrats — after they attempted to stage an uprising in 1825.

In Soviet times, dissidents were also exiled here. Now it is home to Russia’s most prominent critic — the founder of the Yukos oil company, who once topped the Russian rich list with an estimated fortune of $15.2 billion (£8.5 billion).

Inna, his wife, made a point of visiting a church built by the Decembrists in Chita, the regional capital, as she made her way to see her husband this week. “In 180 years, the behaviour of the State has not changed much,” she said.

But Krasnokamensk was not chosen only for its symbolic value. Its location — six hours’ flight plus nine hours’ drive from Moscow — makes it all the harder for Khodorkovsky’s lawyers and relatives to contact him.

The town is also a minefield of health hazards, according to his legal team. Winter temperatures drop to -40C and the prison, like most in Russia, is riddled with tuberculosis. The illness has been diagnosed in five people in YaG-14/10 this year alone. Two inmates have died since January, Nikolai Podprigorin, the head doctor at Krasnokamensk’s state sanitary control centre, said. One died from gangrene, the other from dysentery after sewage leaked into the prison water supply.

Officials say that conditions in the prison are no worse than elsewhere in the country. But Khodorkovsky’s lawyers have an added concern about radioactive contamination from the Priargunskoye uranium mine, 10 miles (16km) away.

In 1991 the authorities found radiation levels of up to 7,000 becquerels per cubic metre — more than 30 times the safety limit — in parts of the village of Oktyabrskaya, next to the mine. They started to evacuate its 3,000 residents, but 2,000 are still there because the local government lacks the funds to move them.

Vika Kuznetsova, 26, who runs the village shop, said: “It seriously affects my health. Our children are very sick. They tell us everything is OK now but no one believes them.”

Dr Podprigorin said that there were pockets of high radioactivity where residents had used materials from the mines to build dachas and roads. But he insisted that radiation levels in the town centre and around the prison were normal. Either way, Krasnokamensk is a rude shock for a man who has spent most of the past decade living in a luxurious villa in Moscow and being ferried around in a limousine or private jet.

All that ended when he was arrested by special forces two years ago and charged with tax evasion and fraud. Khodorkovsky protested that the charges were trumped up by the Kremlin to penalise him for challenging its energy policy and funding opposition parties.

But his company was forcibly renationalised in December and he was sentenced to eight years in prison in May after a trial that was widely seen as a sham. With two years already served, Khodorkovsky faces another six in Krasnokamensk.

His new home is a bunk bed in one of 13 barrack-like buildings housing 100-120 prisoners each. His Italian suits have been swapped for dark blue prison fatigues, with a label on his chest saying “Khodorkovsky MB”.

Yuri Yakushevsky, a spokesman for the prison service, said: “Mikhail Khodorkovsky does all this work on an equal basis with the others.” There are, however, ways to avoid unsavoury chores. Vyacheslav Chumakov, 34, who spent seven years in the prison, said that Khodorkovsky would be treated with deference by inmates and warders. “A strong person will be able to live well in prison, while a weak one will not,” Mr Chumakov said.

The former oil tycoon is likely to live like the polozhentsi — prominent criminal figures — who have other prisoners cook and run errands for them, Vladimir Lebedev, 22, another former inmate, said. “Money can buy you anything on the inside,” he added.

Anything, that is, except good company. Prisoners are allowed four long visits of three days each and six short ones of three hours every year. For the long visits, the prison authorities provide a room with two beds for the inmate and his visitor.

Inna Khodorkovskaya emerged from the prison yesterday after her first three-day visit. She and her husband’s parents, Marina and Boris, are contemplating moving to the region. His lawyers are thinking about setting up a base here to co-ordinate his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

But his most regular companion is likely to be Father Sergei, who visits the prison every Friday. He is well qualified to counsel Khodorkovsky. At the age of 18 he was charged with organising an anti-Soviet youth group and sentenced to four years in a labour camp in the Perm region, thousands of miles from his home in Chita.

His fellow inmates included Ukrainian and Armenian nationalists, and people who had tried to defect. He shared a cell for two years with Sergei Kovalyov, the dissident and human rights activist.

By day, they were forced to mend electrical appliances. By night, they would discuss politics in hushed tones, or read books from the well-stocked but carefully censored prison library. And they regularly staged hunger and labour strikes to protest against their detention. By contrast, the biggest problem Khodorkovsky will face is boredom, Father Sergei said. Some inmates have jobs, making uniforms, wooden furniture and souvenirs, but there is not enough work to go round.

Nataliya Terikhova, a lawyer, said that Khodorkovsky had asked for 50 newspapers and magazines. He plans to study for a doctorate and is considering teaching in a school attached to the prison, according to another lawyer.

Whatever he does, Father Sergei said, his time in prison is certain to change him, but not necessarily as the Kremlin would like. “No one came out of my prison a Communist,” he said.

Despite the KGB’s watchful eye, Father Sergei converted to Christianity while in prison. He said that Khodorkovsky was also now a believer, although he had never been baptised. “The last two years have taught him patience and humility,” he said. “God has set him a difficult test, but I am sure he is strong enough to pass it.”

Roll-calls, chores and porridge — one day in the life of a prisoner

6am Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s day begins with a wake-up call over loudspeakers

6.30 Breakfast of porridge and black tea in the communal canteen

7.00 Roll-call outside, which can last up to two hours, even in winter

9.00 Inmates on duty do chores including cleaning, bread-baking, washing-up and mending of equipment. Weekly dormitory checks by prison staff

11.00 Cooking lunch

Noon Lunch of meat, bread, potatoes and black tea. Prison spends 35.91 roubles (70p) per inmate per day on meals

1pm Second roll-call outside. Former inmates say that feet get numb standing on the concrete prison ground

3.00 Work and/or study. Options include welding, sewing, carpentry and farmwork. Inmates can earn up to 23.23 roubles (46p) a day but can only keep 50 per cent of their salary.

Practice for occasional musical and other shows, especially to mark national holidays

4.00 Spare time. Shopping for soap, cigarettes and other basics at prison store. Optional prayers and private meetings with Father Sergei every Friday. Newspapers arrive by post, about three days after issue. Washing by rota in communal bathrooms

5.00 Cooking dinner

6.00 Dinner of meat, bread, potatoes and black tea. Occasional vegetables, chicken or even seafood when inspectors come from Moscow

7.00 Washing up, cleaning

8.00 Television — one in each of the 13 dormitory blocks, two hours maximum. Only four channels available, three of them state controlled

10.00 Lights out


There are 763,054 men, women and children in prison in Russia. This is more than 500 prisoners per 100,000 people

Britain has 142 prisoners per 100,000 people and in Eastern European countries the average is 184 per 100,000

Amnesty International estimates that more than half of Russian prisoners have health problems

One in ten prisoners has tuberculosis and about one in 20 has HIV or Aids

Under Stalin the population of forced labour camps — gulags — peaked at 1.7 million in 1939

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, an inmate, won the Nobel Prize for Literature for works including The Gulag Archipelago

Since 1996 the number of prisoners has shrunk by about 300,000

The Times, 10.31.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Guardian : Welcome to penal colony YaG 14/10. Now the home of one of Russia's richest men

Billionaire gets six years in Siberia Border region

Tom Parfitt in Krasnokamensk
Tuesday October 25, 2005
The Guardian

Three thousand one hundred miles from Moscow, the rough stone track crests a rise and all is revealed. Hunched on the open steppe stands a group of tatty grey buildings, swept by plumes of dust. Welcome to Krasnokamensk, a town at the edge of civilisation.
Nearly two centuries have passed since Tsar Nikolai I banished the rebellious aristocrats known as the Decembrists to remote corners of eastern Siberia. In Soviet times, enemies of the people were dispatched to similar benighted spots in the network of labour camps called the gulag.

Today, in Vladimir Putin's Russia, the price of dissent comes no cheaper. For Mikhail Khodorkovsky - former billionaire, oil tycoon and convicted criminal - the road to internal exile ended here in Krasnokamensk. After speculation about where he would serve his term, prison officials confirmed last week that Khodorkovsky had been delivered to this outpost to complete his term on charges of fraud and tax evasion. On the edge of this wind-blasted company town near the Chinese border - it was built to serve a giant uranium mine nearby - stands penal colony YaG 14/10, the place that will be his home for up to six years.

Bitter winds

In winter, temperatures drop to -40C (-40F) and bitter winds sweep across the steppe. Visitors are rare and the tycoon's arrival has sent a ripple of disruption through the town of 60,000, once off limits to all outsiders. "He's the biggest bird that ever flew in here," admits a guard at the camp.

Once Russia's richest man with a personal fortune of $15bn, Khodorkovsky ran afoul of the Kremlin when he lobbied for private oil pipelines and dripped cash into parties opposed to Mr Putin. He was arrested two years ago and convicted in May after proceedings widely condemned as a farce.

This morning the 42-year-old father of three, who previously lived in a villa in Moscow and was driven to work in an armoured saloon, wakes up in barracks No 8 of YaG 14/10. Dressed in blue fatigues, he will shuffle off with his fellow zeks (slang for inmates) to a breakfast of porridge and black tea.

Yuri Yakushevksy, Siberia spokesman for the federal penitentiary service, told Interfax the colony spent 65.44 roubles daily (£1.29) on each prisoner, of which 35 were spent on food. "All the prisoners eat in the same canteen," he said. "They prepare the food themselves and they do the washing up. The bread is baked by the prisoners. On the menu today is porridge, bread, meat. Soon they will get a wagon of seafood and fish."

He said inmates rose at 6am, and those on duty worked for two hours, while all could watch TV for two hours a day. "Khodorkovsky is no exception and works like all the others," he said, adding that he had brought in two cases of books and was studying for an unspecified doctorate. He would sleep on a bunkbed in a dormitory 40 metres by 15 metres, in a two-floor building holding an estimated 160 prisoners.

Old habits die hard in these parts, and even approaching the prison - known to locals as "the zone" - prompts a warning to retreat quickly. A ramshackle collection of huts behind a wall held up by slumped concrete pillars, about a mile outside the town, is all one can glimpse before guards bear down. An observation post provides a clear field of fire over the road and surrounding wasteland.


Guards are already jumpy: three local reporters were arrested and their cameras confiscated for getting too close at the weekend. Outside yesterday, men in camouflage erected a checkpoint to stop prying eyes. But details of life inside soon leak out.

"There's only a few old hands left over from the days when it was a harsh regime camp," says one prison source. "Khodorkovsky's got nothing to worry about - they're mostly fraudsters and thieves, just like him."

Work offers one desirable perk: a salary of up to 23.23 roubles (46p) a day. Inmates are largely in their mid-20s and are keen for a job to alleviate boredom and earn money for cigarettes and chocolate, bought in the prison shop.

"There's a kind of sewing workshop where they make uniforms for policemen and some of them get to look after cows and pigs," says Valery Dereshov, a local reporter who went inside two years ago. Natalia Terekhova, a local lawyer who visited Khodorkovsky on Friday, says he was calm but disoriented. "Mikhail Borisovich had a lot of questions about the conditions, his rights, his access to newspapers and television," she says. "Imagine an intellectual person finding himself for the first time in such a place. He does not want to lose touch with the outside world."


Khodorkovsky's legal team in Moscow is less restrained. Anton Drel, his defence lawyer, accuses the Kremlin of isolating the tycoon from his family. "This is the pursuit of a certain goal: it's vengeance," he says, adding that he is preparing a complaint to the European court of human rights on grounds that prisoners are habitually allowed to serve their sentences close to home. Khodorkovsky's mother, Marina, has said she and his wife, Inna, may take turns living nearby.

In Krasnokamensk, sympathy for Khodorkovsky is thin on the ground. "We survive here and so will he," says Gennady, 58, a geologist fixing his car in nearby Oktyabrsky village, where tests a decade ago found radon levels at 190 times their recommended maximum.

Irina, a chemist at the uranium plant, says: "He's an oligarch after all. If his relatives want to come and visit they can use his private jet."

The Guardian, 10.25.2005

Sorry Irina, but you should know that unlike Putin'friend Abramovich, Khodorkovsky has no private jet and never had. Two years ago he was arrested on board of an old Tupolev 134 plane that his compagny used to hire for its staff.

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Kommersant: "There is human inside of him"

How Mikhail Khodorkovsky was met in the correctional facility

Doing the Time

The quarantine for inmate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is doing his time in the correctional labor facility YG 14/10 (town of Krasnokamensk, Chita Region) is over. The inmates, who are ranked as “criminal authorities” in prison, characterized the former oligarch as a “man” –one who is supposed to work. However, there is no work at the correctional facility. “The guys are thinking that there is something human inside of him,” the criminal authorities inside of the correctional facility told Kommersant correspondent Sergey Dyupin about Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The punishment by the transfer

People in Krasnokamensk started to suspect that soon some kind of VIP-inmate would arrive at YG 14/10. However nobody, including the staff of the correctional facility, knew who and when the person was supposed to arrive. “Sometime in the beginning of September we started to see high ranking people from Chita, Novosibirsk and Moscow,” I’ve been told in local hotel “Central,” by the way the only hotel in town that provides soap and toilet paper in the rooms. “All these people had ranks not lower than a colonel and were flashing IDs from different law-enforcement organizations – Prosecution, Ministry of Justice, FSB. Because all our tenants were going into the correctional facility, we realized that there are some changes coming.” I learned in the correctional facility why the colonels were coming to Krasnokamensk. “We had a severe check up for a whole month,” one of the officers from YG 14/10 told me. “The inspection was working at several directions simultaneously. They were reading everybody files. They looked at all engineering installations. They were happy with the results and told us that we should wait for a ‘guest.’ On the question who is ‘the guest,’ one of the inspectors right before the departure said: Lebedev. After that the whole facility, as well as whole city, started to wait for Platon Lebedev’s arrival.” As the officer explained, the “sincerity” of the General was nothing more than a tactical trick. The officers from the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) were putting intentional clouds so nobody could make malicious plans against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev during their transfer. For the same reason the guarding of the inmates during the transfer was not entrusted to the regional changing convoys. From the gates of the Matrosskaya Tishina Prison and all way to the gates of YG 14/10 in Krasnokamensk, Khodorkovsky was guarded by the Special Convoy of FPS. It is still unclear how the former head of the YUKOS was transported. According to the official version from the leadership of FPS, the former oligarch had no different treatment than other convicts. In other words, together with other inmates he was loaded into the special prison railroad cart and went to the East – across whole wide country with the usual stop in Vladimir, Yekaterinburg and other prison transportation hubs. In these hubs the convicts are sorted by groups, which are being sent to different locations. Allegedly, the last hub for Khodorkovsky was Chita.

On the Manchurian Railroad Branch, which goes from Chita to China, there is only one prison railroad car. “The car is always attached right behind the locomotive,” one of the officers, who guards this railroad branch, explained to me. “The car is always attached to the passenger train #601 and #602 Chita-Priargunsk and all the inmates to the Krasnokamensk correctional labor facility travel in this car. Train #601 comes everyday but the prisoners are being delivered only four times per months. On October 18, the train came to Krasnokamensk without the special railroad car. We were unloading the prison car a day before and Khodorkovsky wasn’t there. Theoretically, he could be brought with the special convoy of three officers in the regular passenger train, but we hadn’t had such convoys already for a long time.” According to the FPS on the last stage of the trip, the Federal Agents decided to trick alleged malicious enemies of Khodorkovsky and delivered the former oligarch from Chita by a car. If this was the true, then Khodorkovsky was already severely punished - even before he started to do his time in the correctional facility. I rode the same route on the passenger seat of old Toyota, which I hired in Chita. There is no solid asphalt in these 600 kilometers. Every 20 meters or so there are big holes in the pavement with sand in the bottom. If car goes with a good speed – and you have to drive fast if you want to get there before the dark- the wheels regularly hit these holes and the suspension jars the passenger pretty severely. As a result, after the first 100 km the passenger feels like he was blinded, dumbfounded and dragged on a washboard. After 300 km the passenger doesn’t care anymore about the environment and by the end of the trip a person is totally zombified. During one of these stops, in the cloud of dust created by the holes, I heard a song.

When the dust settled down I saw a man sitting next to his car with a tape recorder. He asked us, “Going to Khodorkovsky?” after he found out that we got lost. He offered us to come out from the car and pointed somewhere to the west. Looking in the direction of his hand, we started to look on the hills lit by the last rays of the sun and suddenly we say a miracle. From behind one of the hills we saw a huge letter Y then letter K started to come out and soon enough the whole word YUKOS appeared on the horizon and disappeared again. Then between two other hills we saw a train a diesel and each rail car had a huge word YUKOS written on the side. Go after the train and you won’t get lost said the man with the tape recorder.

Behind the five fences

We couldn’t find out about the fate of the famous inmate at YG 14-10. They did not let me further than the entrance, saying it is Sunday and the commander of the correctional facility is off and nobody except him can let the media into the perimeter. However, they could not prohibit us from walking around the labor facility with the cameraman. At the same time, they recommended not approaching closer than 25 meters because “it agitates the guards of the perimeter.” This was enough to find out that inmate Khodorkovsky is guarded quite well. Today he is separated from the outside world by at least five fences: from regular barbed wire, concertina barbed wire, and meshed barbed wire. Besides on the top of the cement fence there are wires with 380 volt electricity running through them. Between these fences there is also control sand strip to track the steps of escapes and huge Caucus shepherd dogs running lose. The dog house is located every 50 meters and of course in the corners of the perimeters there are watch towers with armed guards. As the knowledgeable people insist, the soldiers without any warning give a shot in the air when somebody approaches the perimeter from outside and tries to throw something over the fences. There were also rumors that in some cases some visitors were leaving for home in jeeps with hoods and tailgates riddled by bullets. And these visitors don’t ever have the chance to send some packages bypassing the officers of the correctional facility. We had a chance to find out ourselves the effectiveness of the guards. While we were walking around the perimeter, nobody was bothering us. However, as soon as our cameraman pulled out the camera and tried to make a shot, we heard the distinctive sound of the gun lock and short command, “Stop!” Several minutes after, we were quite politely delivered by a convoy of three soldiers with assault rifles to the gate office of the correctional facility. Soon, a Krasnokamensk police patrol arrived after a call made by the guards. The police patrol took us into the precinct, checked out documents and released us after finding out that there was no crime in our actions. We did not try to penetrate the perimeter. We were just trying to make pictures and there is no law that says we cannot do so from outside. We thanked the law enforcement officers after they drove us to the center of the town.

The wood processing and sewing facilities are closed and the pig sty is on its last leg

I was told about Khodorkovsky’s first days of imprisonment at YG 14/10 by Natalya Terekhova, head of the Krasnokamensk office of Chita’s attorney’s board. According to her, she visited Khodorkovsky last Wednesday and Thursday and provided a consultation. She did not receive any complaints from the client. “When lawyer or doctor are coming to visit a person at the correctional facility, the first question they ask is whether there is anything that bothers you,” the attorney said. “I did the same. Both time Khodorkovsky said he did not have any problems. It looked to me like he was in a normal physical and spiritual mood.” According to Terekhova asked to see a lawyer only to let know about his location to people in Moscow and to find out about the rules of the correctional facility. “Khodorkovsky as an educated person was interested, for instance, how often he can receive newspapers and magazines and what quantity. We agreed he will not have a problem with that. He already received a catalog and he is selecting the media that he would like to subscribe to. So far, he picked up about 100 names of the publications,” the lawyer said. Besides, the attorney also pointed out that Khodorkovsky was also interested in the financial side of his life in the correctional facility—how often and how much he can use his money. They did not discuss a possible job that the formal oligarch will be doing. In the meantime, Khodorkovsky most likely will have problems with employment. The problem is that labor in YG 14/10 correctional facility is not forced, but rather a hard-earned right of few inmates and people who live on probation outside of the perimeter. The inmates get to work only for good behavior. Although the money is very small, most of the inmates except the professional criminals who consider work as a shame, are really willing to work. Otherwise, they would die here from boredom.

“Of course they pay almost nothing,” a former prisoner of 14/10 told me. “By the end of the term after all the deductions, it was about 1500. But it was still enough to treat local kids who meet all inmates leaving the gates of the prison. But now everybody is walking out from 14/10 almost naked. They don’t even have enough money to buy a railroad ticket to Chita. And these poor guys are going to the railway station to beg for a free ride. And of course nobody gives it to them. The municipal authorities are usually spending their own money just to remove these people from the town and buy them a ticket.”

The problem is that inmates from 14/10 do not work in the town’s workplaces anymore. They never worked in the uranium mining plant and management of the neighboring cement plant prefers recently to use labor of prisoners on probation because there is a bunch of them around here and they work hard for the money. The small industry that once was blooming inside the correctional facility is closed. For instance, the wood processing shop is shut down, the big and small pig sties are on their last leg. There is not much left from the loading and unloading dock of the metal yard—three rusted cranes. Sometimes inmates climb on top of them just to take a look at Krasnokamensk, which his located only two kilometers away, before the guards will order them down. Until recently there was a sewing shop, but it was closed also. The three-story building of the former sewing shop is now being remodeled into isolation facilities. However, this renovation is done by free construction workers. The labor loving inmates can only clean after the construction workers and sweep the yard.

“Khodorkovsky is OK in there”

The most complete information about the famous inmate I was able to receive from the criminal “authorities” who are supervising YG 14/10. These two men who for understandable reasons asked not to be named and for the precise details of their prison supervision revealed, persuaded me that “Khodorkovsky is OK in there.” At least so far, they said. “Together with him there were about 20 people in the quarantine,” the “authorities” explained. “As far as we know, after the check for the snitches, all from this quarantine would go prison as the “men” and not the “authorities.” This oligarch is OK so far. The main thing in prison is to maintain the dignity and everything else would be good.”

Because, these two men from the criminal “authorities” did not watch closely the “men” quarantine, they agreed to help me and made a telephone call to the “authorities” right in the correctional labor facility 14/10. They could not connect with the top guy but quickly got the hold of his deputy. “What’s up, brother. I wanted to inquire about Khodorkovsky. Do you know about him?” one of my “authorities” asked, after the ritual of special prison greetings. “Everything is OK with him. The guys were saying that he talked with people normally and was cool. The guys think that he has something human inside of him. But this is just preliminary conclusion. When he starts to live in jail, than we’ll see what is going to happen.”

by Sergey Dyupin

Kommersant, 10.24.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

The Moscow Times: 'Human' Billionaire to Read and Write

By Nabi Abdullaev
Staff Writer

(A view of the isolated YaG 14/10 prison, where Mikhail Khodorkovsky is to sleep in a 160-inmate dormitory and, at his request, visit with a priest on Friday.)

Crime bosses jailed in the same remote prison as Mikhail Khodorkovsky described him as being "human," while Khodorkovsky himself has subscribed to about 100 newspapers and magazines and plans to write a dissertation during the remaining six years of his sentence.

After several days in quarantine, Khodorkovsky on Monday was to join the 960 other inmates of the YaG 14/10 camp in the Far East region of Chita. Much in his life now will depend on how the most influential inmates -- jailed crime bosses -- size him up.

Kommersant reported some reassuring signs from behind the five concentric perimeters of barbed wire and high-voltage fences surrounded by men and dogs.

"While in quarantine, the guys said that he spoke well to people and behaved normally. The guys believe there is a human side to him," an unidentified inmate told an unidentified crime boss who lives in the closest town to the prison, Krasnokamensk, Kommersant reported.

The state spends 65.44 rubles ($2.30) per day on each inmate in the camp, with 35 rubles going toward food, the head of the Chita regional branch of the Federal Prisons Service, Yury Yakushevsky, said Monday.

"All inmates eat together in one mess hall. They cook food and bake bread themselves," Yakushevsky said, Interfax reported. "Today's menu includes bread, cereal and meat."

The inmates leave their bunk beds in dormitories that house 160 men each at 6 a.m. and return at 10 p.m. They are allowed to watch television for two hours each day, and those who do not work in the camp's sewing shop and pigsties have to spend two hours cleaning and making repairs on the premises.

The prison does not have enough jobs, and only one-third of the inmates work, Kommersant said, citing prison officials. Khodorkovsky will not be forced to work.

Yakushevsky said Khodorkovsky felt well and read frequently. "He brought two trunks filled with books with him to write a dissertation," he said.

Krasnokamensk-based lawyer Natalya Terekhova, so far the only lawyer who has seen Khodorkovsky in the prison, said he had subscribed to about 100 newspapers and magazines and asked her to arrange a meeting with a priest, Kommersant reported.

A local priest who served a four-year sentence for spreading anti-communist material in the same prison in the 1970s was expected to visit Khodorkovsky on Friday, Izvestia said.

Khodorkovsky, the founder of Yukos and once Russia's richest man, was sentenced to eight years in prison in a case that many consider the Kremlin's punishment for his political and business ambitions. He has already spent two years in custody.

Yakushevsky said Khodorkovsky would probably have to serve the full six remaining years.

By law, convicts can win early release for good behavior after serving two-thirds of their term.

Meanwhile, local authorities on Monday denied that radiation levels at the prison posed a health hazard, Interfax reported. Khodorkovsky's lawyers and family had expressed concern that the prison was located some 15 kilometers from uranium ore mines and even closer to a uranium-processing plant. Environmentalists have said the area is heavily contaminated.

The Moscow Times

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

The Moscow Times: 2 Years On, Yukos Faces Final Curtain

By Catherine Belton
Staff Writer

The net is starting to tighten around the remains of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's shattered Yukos empire as court marshals, foreign governments, banks and the Rosneft state oil company begin to close in for the kill.

Two years after Khodorkovsky, the company's CEO and majority shareholder, was arrested at gunpoint on a Siberian runway on Oct. 25, 2003, Yukos is in tatters. Once the nation's biggest crude exporter, it says it can no longer afford to export any oil at all, never mind make any payments toward its mammoth back tax bill.

The Federal Court Marshals Service is issuing new threats to break up the company for the first time since it auctioned off Yukos' main production unit, the 1 million-barrel-per-day Yuganskneftegaz, last December. On Oct. 14, court marshals warned they could sell off the remains of the company as payment for the $7 billion in back taxes Yukos still owes, possibly before year's end.

While court marshals move in, the Slovakian and Lithuanian governments are trying to sell off the remnants of Yukos' foreign oil assets. Meanwhile, foreign creditors seeking $475 million in debt payments are trying to make sure they are paid out of the proceeds of any sale.

Rosneft, the new owner of Yugansk, is also striking back in the asset chase, filing suit in the Netherlands to prevent Yukos from getting its hands on any cash from foreign sales, and in Russian courts, claiming up to $11 billion in debts from Yukos via Yugansk.

"Yukos is under attack from all sides," said a former Yukos executive who wished to remain anonymous, citing the sensitivity of the situation. "It's in conflict with the Lithuanian government. There's conflict between the main shareholder and the management on how to pay off its debt, ... and there's a potential conflict between the Russian and Lithuanian governments on whom to sell the assets to. Yukos is caught right in the middle."

In the meantime, the asset chase is speeding up again, after a long pause. "By the end of the year, it looks like the state will have one of the other production units," he said.

The trigger for the renewed fight could have been the sale of a controlling stake in Sibneft to Gazprom for $13 billion, announced last month, as Gazprom and Rosneft race to scoop up oil assets.

"The pressure has now resumed across the board," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. "The attack has been held back for the last nine months while the government moved to start a peace process with big business and to give time for the negotiations on taking over Sibneft to proceed. Those shackles have now been taken off."

The race for the rest of Yukos could herald a new stage in the state's growing domination of the oil sector.

Gazprom's Sibneft buyout was the gas giant's first real move into the oil sector and could make it hungry for more, while Rosneft could be anxious to make sure it stays on top in the oil race by securing control over the rest of Yukos.

With little action against Yukos in recent months, even badly bitten Yukos investors had started to hope the rest of the company, which includes production units Samaraneftegaz and Tomskneft and produces 550,000 barrels per day -- still more than Qatar -- might be left in relative peace.

Shares even rose on hopes that the company in its reduced form would survive. But following raids on Yukos offices in Moscow and the Netherlands over money-laundering allegations and the court marshals' threat of breakup, they have since slumped to less than $1. Two years ago, before Khodorkovsky was arrested, they were worth more than $14.

Lithuania's moves to sell Yukos' majority share in the country's Mazeikiu refinery also sparked a new wave of legal action. Yukos is hoping to recoup up to $1 billion from a sale.

First, a consortium of foreign banks filed suit in the London High Court to try to secure payment on the $475 million outstanding on $1 billion loan to Yukos. The Moscow Arbitration Court on Sept. 29 upheld the London court's ruling, increasing the chances that the claim could be used to bankrupt Yukos.

Few, however, believe that foreign banks will initiate bankruptcy proceedings since, according to Russian law, they would be among the last creditors to be paid. Their move has been seen more as an attempt to ensure payment out of the proceeds of any sale abroad.

Just as Yukos' financial position appeared to be recovering with the prospect of more than $4 billion in cash via foreign asset sales and the potential sale of its 20 percent stake in Sibneft, Rosneft stepped back into the fray.

As Yugansk's new owner, Rosneft moved to block any foreign sales of Yukos assets. Through Yugansk, it filed suit in Amsterdam. The Dutch court on Oct. 6 ordered an asset freeze against the three firms that have held shares in Yukos' foreign interests. Saying it was seeking to uphold a ruling it obtained in Moscow in May on $2.2 billion it claims Yukos owes Yugansk from transfer pricing schemes, it won a 90-day freeze on the Dutch companies' assets. Rosneft said the action was necessary to prevent Yukos from illegally moving its foreign assets out of creditors' reach.

In its Dutch lawsuit, Yugansk cited a number of transfers of shares in Yukos' foreign assets between Yukos's 100 percent-owned Dutch subsidiary Yukos Finance BV, Yukos International BV, and a trust run by senior Yukos managers named Stichtung Administratiekantoor Yukos International.

"The unmistakable intention -- and consequence -- of this 'restructuring' was to take the assets of Yukos Finance out of the reach of Yukos' creditors (including Yuganskneftegaz)," said Yugansk's filing, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times.

Yukos denies any wrongdoing in the case.

Even though it is unlikely to win a ruling in a Dutch court on the $2.2 billion Rosneft says Yukos owes it, the temporary freeze, which could be extended further after three months, could complicate the Lithuanian government's attempts to sell off Yukos's stake in Mazeikiu.

"This appears to be designed to stop the sale of Mazeikiu Nafta rather than anything else," said Tim Osborne, a director of Group Menatep, Yukos' majority shareholder. "This is just a blocking tactic."

"They take action anytime Yukos looks anywhere near like it might be able deal with its debt," Osborne said, citing growing prospects for a foreign sale and for Yukos's sale of its 20 percent stake in Sibneft.

"We'll either see Rosneft getting the production units in settlement of the claims Yugansk has filed against Yukos, or if the government has not yet decided who will get them, they will be sold off at auction as payment for the back tax bills," Osborne said. "Either way, it's looking pretty bleak for anyone who thinks Yukos might survive. Now it's a question of how and when, rather than if there will be a break-up."

"It looks like they're on the move."

Rosneft has taken multiple steps to secure its hold over Yukos. On Sept. 27, the Moscow Arbitration Court named the Menatep vehicle set up to hold shares in Yukos, the Cyprus-based Hulley Enterprises, as a co-defendant in Rosneft's transfer-pricing lawsuit against Yukos. Although hearings in that case have been postponed until April 2006, targeting other Menatep entities could be a fallback option for Rosneft, if it is unable to take over Yukos assets via back tax claims. Hulley currently owns 49 percent of Yukos, industry insiders said.

Either way, Rosneft appears to be setting its sights on gobbling up the rest of Yukos. Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov has said his company does not want any more assets, just payment on Yukos's debts.

Rosneft declined to comment for this article despite repeated requests.

Other market players said Rosneft appeared to be after Yukos's foreign assets too.

Even though the Lithuanian government last week named TNK-BP, the joint venture between BP and Tyumen Oil, as its buyer of choice for the Mazeikiu sale, the Russian authorities could block the sale, said one trader who used to work with Mazeikiu.

"The Lithuanian government has the right of first refusal to buy the shares. But if they sell them to anyone the Russian government does not approve of, Moscow will say: Fine, but where is the oil coming from?" the trader said, speaking on condition of anonymity. They can stop Transneft from sending any oil to Mazeikiu, he said, adding that Moscow had used this tactic successfully in the past.

TNK-BP spokeswoman Marina Dracheva said the sale had been overly politicized. She said, however, that TNK-BP had been in talks with the Russian government over its Mazeikiu bid.

The Moscow Times, 10.25.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Sunday, October 23, 2005

AP: Mom: Russia Afraid of Khodorkovsky Clout

By MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 22, 7:06 PM ET

MOSCOW - The mother of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Saturday that authorities acted out of fear of her son's growing clout when they sent him to a Siberian penal colony near the Chinese border to serve an eight-year sentence.

Marina Khodorkovsky is packing her bags to travel thousands miles east to visit her son at the prison that his lawyers claim may be contaminated by radiation from a nearby uranium mine. And she might stay there, she said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.

Khodorkovsky, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on fraud and tax evasion charges, will serve his time in the colony in the town of Krasnokamensk in the Chita region, about 3,000 miles east of Moscow. His two years in custody since his arrest on Oct. 25, 2003 are being counted as part of his term, Khodorkovsky has six years left to serve.

Observers say Khodorkovsky's trial and the partial re-nationalization of his Yukos oil empire was the government's retaliation for Khodorkovsky financing opposition parties.

"My feeling is that today's authorities probably have many sins, that's why they are madly afraid of losing power and they probably saw in him some kind of future leader," Marina Khodorkovsky told the AP in a boarding school for orphans outside Moscow, which her son had set up 11 years ago.

After more than a week of keeping Khodorkovsky's family guessing about his whereabouts, prison officials informed them this week that Khodorkovsky had been sent to the colony in Krasnokamensk. Khodorkovsky said she will visit her son after his wife, Inna, first travels there with his lawyers.

Both women are considering settling near Khodorkovsky's colony, she said.

"If ... they allow to see him and bring him (food) only six times a year, then there is no sense to live there," said Marina Khodorkovsky, a soft-spoken silver-haired woman, wearing a modest dark pants suit. "But if our life there will somehow make things easier for him, if we can be bringing him some food, then we will take turns living there."

Khodorkovsky's family and lawyers have expressed concern over his prison conditions, fearing that the colony is contaminated by radiation. His lawyers have said they would raise the issue in the European Court on Human Rights.

"What I wish for him in my thoughts is that he would preserve his health, I think that's the most important thing," Marina Khodorkovsky said of her son, her voice trembling. "As for his moral strength, I think he has enough."

Marina Khodorkovsky said her son's standoff with the authorities was a conscious choice, his attempt to fight for freedom and democracy in Russia. Many believe he could have avoided arrest by either fleeing abroad after his key partner Platon Lebedev was detained on similar charges or by cooperating with the authorities later.

Even though Khodorkovsky's arrest was anticipated by many, Marina Khodorkovsky said it turned his family's lives upside down.

"What kind of life do we have? We live from one rumor to another, from one visit (to jail) to the next one," she said.

Besides an older son from his first marriage, Khodorkovsky and his wife have a 14-year-old daughter Nastya and two 6-year-old twin sons.

"The boys are young, they don't understand much, but Nastya is suffering of course — she's 14, it's really hard for her," Marina Khodorkovsky said of her grandchildren.

With Khodorkovsky's arrest and the breakup of Yukos, his family was not only suffered financially but they also felt betrayed by some of Khodorkovsky's former friends and colleagues.

"His middle-ranking colleagues they come and support us, but high-ranking (employees) disappeared from our life," Marima Khodorkovsky said.

Even as she tries to be strong for her son and for her grandchildren, Marina Khodorkovsky says she has little optimism for her son's fate as long as Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his team are in power.

Prosecutors have said they are preparing more charges against Khodorkovsky, which means his sentence could be extended.

AP via Yahoo! News, 10.22.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Kommersant: The Inmate of Correctional Facility 14/10

Yesterday the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) of Siberian Federal District officially confirmed the information that the ex-head of YUKOS Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving his 8-year-prison term at the correctional facility next to the town of Krasnokamensk of Chita Region. Currently Khodorkovsky is going through the quarantine. According to Kommersant sources in FPS, he doesn't complain about the living conditions. And he was very happy with the bath house day that he had in the correctional facility. Ecologists and attorneys consider the Krasnokamensk area a dangerous one because of the presence of techno-radioactive pollution.

As Kommersant already published (see yesterday' issue), Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrived into the correctional facility YG-14/10 last Saturday. However, the heads of the FPS announced about it only yesterday --in the day when Khodorkovsky's wife - Inna - received from Matrosskay Tishina Prison official notification that her husband was sent to Krasnokamensk.

"Currently he (Mikhail Khodorkovsky -Kommersant) is being examined by the medics. The quarantine will last for two weeks, "Alexander Pleshkov, head of the FPS, said. "Then, Khodorkovsky would be signed up to one of the regiments of the facility and placed for work."

Kommersant sources in FPS told the correspondent of how Khodorkovsky spent yesterday. The heads of the correctional facility made for their most famous inmate a bathhouse day. "Mikhail was very happy with the steam room," the FPS sources said. "He said: 'It's been a long time since he had such good steam.' According to our information, he did not have a chance to use a steam room from the date of his arrest in Octber of 2003."

According to Pleshkov, YG-14/17 - "is a normal correctional facility with normal living conditions," and Khodorkovsky "would be using all his rights and obligations of the inmate, of the minimum security facility." "We have no right to provide him special treatment." The head of FPS confirmed that the correctional facilities in Krasnokamensk area do not contain dangerous criminals. They have mainly inmates convicted for the theft and fraud.

The FPS also gave Kommersant information that inmates at YG -14/10 mostly work in sewing and souvenir production, however the souvenir production has slowed down some recently because of the shortage of the wood. The best product of this correctional facility is considered to be hard cement. The plant is located outside of the facility and inmates have a chance to get out of jail for a little bit, at least, and also it pays more. The FPS says that inmates are competing among themselves to get a job on the cement plant.

The decision to send Mikhail Khodorkovsky to Chita Region, according to Pleshkov, was connected with the "lack of minimum security correctional labor facilities in the Moscow region." "That is not true," Genrikh Padva, Khodorkovsky attorney, told Kommersant. "There are plenty of the correctional facilities everywhere. Maybe not in Moscow, but I am sure they could find one in the nearest region. And they sent him so far that it is not even funny. It takes six hours to fly to Chita, and then, there are 600 kilometers from there. The trains do not leave from there everyday either. I heard about the uranium mines. I don't know if the inmates are working in there, but I know for sure that ecological conditions there are harmful. Everyone knows that."

The worry of the Khodorkovsky lawyer is well understood. The town of Krasnokamensk grew up around Priargunsky Mining and Chemical Plant (PMCP). The uranium containing ore is mined and refined in here. Because of the plant's activities in the Krasnokamensk area, the ecologists were raising the issue of the techno-radioactive pollution. The ecological organizations were also pointing to the environmentally harmful production of uranium. According to Greenpeace, from 1979 to 1991 the number of deaths from tumors among the males increased more than four times. And the number of men who died from tumors in the working age increased three-fold.

However, the inmates are not used in the uranium mines -- they were only building the plant some time ago. Stanislav Gorlovinsky, Vice President of TVEL (the company that manages PMCP), told Kommersant that the plant is located 15 kilometers from the town: There is a step all around there and there is nothing around the plant for several kilometers. The correctional facilities are located also outside of the city but on its other side. We do not use inmates in our plant -- this is too important job. We do not need unqualified people working because of the fear. Besides, it is a strategic plant and workers need to have clearance." According to Golovinsky, about 10, 000 people from Krasnokamensk work in the plant. The town itself has 60,000 people and has a well developed infrastructure. “The enterprise works on imported equipment, which we purchased this year. Besides, the uranium is mined underground so for that matter the radiation around is at normal level. Many people today are playing with the subject of radiation and ecologic pollution. But there are norms of radiation safety for the workers of the plant and people in town. As a matter of fact, the radiation index there is less than a norm. Our technical safety service, which monitors radiation level, is always working. They monitor the perimeter of several dozens of kilometers surrounding the plant –it is so called sanitary-monitoring zone. So, everything is under control. For instance, recently the geologists found uranium deposits under the village Oktyabrsky. The whole population of the village was moved to a different location. There are no uranium deposits under Krasnokamensk and the surrounding area. This is safe territory.” So, according to the Vice President of TVEL, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is not in radioactive danger.

According to the opinion of the director of Internet-site “” Oleg Trunov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky “will bring a lot of discomfort for the correctional facility”: “Maybe, they are happy in there, but from now on, they will have a lot of different commissions and lawyers visiting them. The FPS will be watching them to make sure that Khodorkovsky obeys the regime. Actually, the authorities are doing everything to make his life difficult.” Also, Trunov thinks that in case of Khodorkovsky there was a failure to comply with the Article 73 of Criminal Code. This article says that the inmate should be doing time in the region where he committed the crime or resided: “The lawyers can submit request to Matrosskaya Tishina, inquiring if any of others convicts were transferred to the nearest region. If the answer will be yes, then, there is a question –why? It can be appealed.”

However, the lawyers did not reveal their further plans yet. Padva told Kommersant, that after Khodorkovsky’s request, he was visited by the local lawyer (Genrikh Padva refused to name him.): “I cannot say any more. In any case, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is alive and well. How does he feel? Well, how the man can feel after such long trip?” According to Padva, the attorneys of former head of YUKOS will fly to Chita as soon as tickets will become available: “He is waiting for us. We will be deciding everything in there.” Inna Khodorkovsky is also planning to fly to her husband.

The lawyers of Platon Lebedev have similar plans. “We already talked to administration of the correctional labor facility (village Harp, Yamalo-Nenetsky District –Kommersant),” attorney Evgeny Baru told Kommersant. “They confirmed that Lebedev is there and we can contact him as long as we have the permission. Right now, we are preparing necessary documents – we going to work there. Most likely, only some people from the defense team will fly in there. Once we are there, we would like to see the living conditions: climate, health conditions of Platon Lebedev, his living quarters. Also, we need to see what kind of conditions Lebedev’s relatives would have, once they would come to visit him.” As Baru had explained, Lebedev and his relatives can exchange letters and he has a right to receive from them letters and parcels. He also has right for the visits: “Of course, these would be short term visits. The relatives cannot live in that place. They are not Decembrists. The conditions are tough there.”

Kommersant, 10.21.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Axis : The West Has Betrayed Khodorkovsky. (How the Western Politicians Build Russia's New Gulag)

According to the information coming from Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrived at prison number 10 located in the city of Harp of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous region, that in the Arctic zone. At the same time, Platon Lebedev was sent to the colony 10 kilometres far from the city of Chita. Until recently Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were contained in investigatory isolator "Matrosskaya Tishina" in Moscow. They are both sentenced by the Russian authorities to 8 years of imprisonment. Relatives of both political prisoners have not received yet any information on their exact location. Even the information that is incoming presently is extremely inconsistent and it is quite possible that actually Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been sent to other jails.
In this connection it is necessary to note that there is no exact information concerning the colony of strict regime number 10 in the Chita area. But the colonies of strict regime YAG-14/1 and YAG-14/5 are very well-known, or better to say ill-known for the reigning despotism of their heads and the extremely bad conditions of keeping the prisoners. Practically all the penitentiary facilities of the Chita area are overcrowded at least by 20 %. Every fifth condemned or arrested person suffers from tuberculosis. The facilities are in bad sanitary conditions: beds are built in three tiers, the meals are awful. Besides, the climatic conditions of Chita area, and Yamal-Nenets autonomous region are very harsh for the temperatures in winter fall down minus 40 C.
Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Yuri Shmidt, already declared that under the law his client should be sent to a colony in the Moscow region, or nearby. "Khodorkovsky and Lebedev should be transferred to colony located in Moscow or the Moscow area, and if there is no such colony of the common regime then they should be placed in the nearest region where there is a colony of such a regime", Schmidt declared.
Thus, abundantly clear, that we are talking about a real banishment on political grounds. Russia is used to this. The imperial regime resorted to this method before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and subsequently it was widely used by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. And today Vladimir Putin is using it again.

Khodorkovsky is being transferred to another jail.
This return of Putin's regime to the old methods of political banishments is not surprising. It is a logical continuation of the process of curtailing the democratic achievements of the President Boris Yeltsin's epoch. And, the worrisome part is, that this process has been taking place in Russia the last five years, before the eyes of the civilized world. It is much more important to note another fact - the return to the practice of political banishments occurs with full connivance of the West and with its tacit consent. After adjudgment to the former heads of Yukos at the end of May, 2005, Putin and his coterie awaited to see the reaction of the West. Just as over half a century ago Hitler awaited the reaction of the Western society on construction of the first concentration camps and the first Jewish pogroms. However, as well as then, the West could not find enough inner strength to resist resolutely to the dictatorship, which is getting stronger. The results of the last visit of Vladimir Putin to London have convinced him that the West is not only unready to clash with the Kremlin because of Khodorkovsky and infringement of human rights as a whole, but, on the contrary, tries to cajole the Kremlin clique in every possible way to provide itself with stable deliveries of oil and gas. In this context the recent statement of the leadership of Latvia that staying in the Latvian territory of the active opponent of a present Russian regime Boris Berezovsky is undesirable, became rather indicative. Having summarized the information, which arrived from London, Riga, and other European capitals, Putin came to a conclusion that now his hands are completely untied and he can do anything to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev without being criticized by the West.
Nevertheless, the West should understand that banishment of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will not suffice Putin. The former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and many other real and imaginary opponents of Putin's regime are on the waiting list.
It is possible that the following step may quite become the revival of the ill-known Gulag, the system of camps in which, at the times of Stalin, besides criminals, were contained and died millions of not only political opponents of the Soviet rule, but simply innocent people. And the West, which decided to go through the transaction with the Russian regime for the sake of momentary economical and political benefits of its ruling elites will be the one to blame.

Axis Globe, 10.21.2005

There is an error in the text. Actually Lebedev is in a camp near Harp and Khodorkovsky near Chita.

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

The Moscow Times : Khodorkovsky Jailed in Polluted Chita

By Nabi Abdullaev
Staff Writer

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has arrived at a labor camp in a uranium-polluted area of the Far Eastern Chita region, a prison official said Thursday, ending 10 days of speculation about the billionaire's whereabouts after he was removed from a Moscow detention center.

Khodorkovsky, the founder of Yukos, is serving out his eight-year sentence at the remote YaG 14/10 penal colony, more than 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow, said Alexander Pleshkov, head of the Federal Prisons Service's department in the Siberian Federal District, Interfax reported.

"It is a regular labor camp with regular housing conditions," Pleshkov said.

The camp opened in the 1960s, and its inmates helped to build one of the Soviet Union's largest uranium-processing plants, Priargunsky, and to explore the nearby Streltsovskoye uranium-ore deposit, Kommersant reported.

Although inmates no longer work in uranium facilities, the area is heavily contaminated with radioactive waste, and environmentalists have repeatedly expressed concern about the area.

Pleshkov said Khodorkovsky had been placed in mandatory quarantine and would remain there for two more weeks. "Then Khodorkovsky will placed on a camp team and assigned a job," he said, adding that the prison had facilities for sewing, carpentry and metal works.

About 1,000 inmates live in the camp.

Pleshkov said that most inmates were serving sentences for theft and fraud and that the camp did not house prisoners convicted of violent crimes.

"Khodorkovsky will enjoy all the rights and carry out all the duties of an inmate, just like everyone else there," he said. "We don't have any right to treat him differently from the others."

Khodorkovsky's lawyer Genrikh Padva told reporters Thursday that a local lawyer had already visited the businessman in the camp and that his team of lawyers from Moscow and St. Petersburg would travel there soon. Padva said the prison was seven hours by car from the nearest town, Krasnokamensk.

By law, authorities need only to notify a convict's immediate family about where he will be imprisoned, and the notification is sent by mail.

Khodorkovsky's wife, Irina, received the letter from the warden of Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina detention center on Thursday. A copy of the letter was posted on Khodorkovsky's web site.

The letter, which was signed on Oct. 10 and postmarked Oct. 14, said Khodorkovsky was being sent to a prison in the Chita region, and, if delivered in a timely fashion, was intended to spare his family any worry about his whereabouts. It normally takes one or two days to deliver mail within Moscow.

Speculation about where Khodorkovsky had been sent had been swirling for the past two weeks, and a report last Friday placed him in a model prison camp in the Saratov region.

Khodorkovsky's business partner and co-defendant Platon Lebedev was removed from the detention center at the same time, and he resurfaced Wednesday in a prison in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, near the Arctic Circle.

Khodorkovky exhausted the appeals process in September, four months after a Moscow court sentenced him on fraud and tax evasion charges widely seen as the Kremlin's punishment for his political and business ambitions.

Next week, it will be exactly two years since his arrest, leaving Khodorkovsky with six years of his sentence remaining. He could be released early on good behavior after he serves out two-thirds of his sentence.

The Moscow Times, 10.21.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

JURIST - Forum: A Wake-up Call: Khodorkovsky and the Rule of Law in Russia

JURIST Special Guest Columnist Robert Amsterdam, international defense counsel for Russian billionaire and former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, recently imprisoned for tax fraud after a long and politically-controversial trial, says his client's case is a call to the West to wake up to fundamental threats to the rule of law in Putin's Russia ...

The knock came in the middle of the night. Five members of the FSB, the Russian state security service, were at my hotel door at 1 AM to let me know that they had determined the extent to which I would be allowed to represent my client. In organising my expulsion and the proposed disbarment of the majority of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's legal team, the Russian Federation had decided that one more overt attack on the rule of law could be snuck past the West during this new period of convergence - a time when the Realpolitiks of the West and East have merged around the superiority of oil over European values, a convergence that is the exact opposite of that once imagined by Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sahakarov and others. Instead of joining with the West on fundamental human rights the Kremlin has managed to collaborate with key Western states around the most base and crude economic interests.

The following note represents an attempt to outline the guiding principles of this new convergence and demonstrate clearly that the Khodorkovsky case, rather than being anyone's view of a "one off" one-time affair, is symptomatic of a method of governing based above all else on the Kremlin's growing belief in its own impunity. The fundamentals of this system are proximity to power, the vertical of power, debasement of judicial independence, the establishment of a new Kremlin-based Oligarchy, and fuel diplomacy as a black jack to be used against recalcitrant nations not willing to bend to the Kremlin's dictates of the Kremlin.

It is abundantly clear with respect to domestic and foreign policy that both the rule of law and attornment to international treaties have been dispensed with in today's Russia in favor of a Byzantine form of tribute organised by the Kremlin to extort maximum benefit from foreign leaders and maximum control over any form of domestic opposition. The prime example of this non-rule based system of exchange, demonstrated time and time again, has been the relationship between President Putin and erstwhile German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Harking back to the concert of Europe these two leaders, in their 40 or so recent direct meetings, have replaced transparency in foreign relations with the anarchy of personal diplomacy. The result has been some of the most staggering departures from democratic values witnessed in Germany in 50 years. In an example of what I call "constitutional dumping" the German Chancellor supported the illegal expropriation of Yukos as well as appearing to dismiss Russia's role in Chechnya in favor of German companies obtaining the pole position in acquiring Russian energy assets. Schroeder was not alone, as Italy's Berlusconi and France's Chirac were not far behind. In giving up both the rule of law and transparency, evidenced by German Trade Associations publicly instructing companies to clear acquisitions with the Kremlin, Germany has managed to both estrange European neighbours and damage US/German relations while breaching its WTO obligations.

This kind of personal proximity to power is a key aspect of the vertical of power which has been established in Russia over the last number of years without comment from the West. In fact in many ways the attack on the press, NGOs, human rights defenders and even the very basis of Russian federalism post-Beslan has been accepted by Western states as a trade off for stability. It is this logic that has been favored in explaining why Western states have remained silent concerning the illegal auction of Yukos assets and the Khodorkovsky show trial. But how long can the West stay invested in the promotion of autocracy in Russia without some possible backdraft on Western values?

One central aspect of the new vertical of power is the re-emergence of the big lie. The Russian state is presently adopting the big lie as a central organising basis of its media outreach. From the submarine Kursk to the Nord-ost and Beslan hostage-takings to Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin has lied and lied and lied again. Never has the West called out the Russians for this practice. Never has the West combined the growing control of television in Russia with the growing penchant of the Kremlin to dissemble. Never has the integrity of Western leaders themselves been so under attack.

The impunity around the use of the big lie grows exponential with each use. The purchase for something like fair market value of Sibneft at the very time of the destruction of Yukos completely disconnects the attack on Khodorkovsky from both privatisation and tax abuse. Sibneft was a far greater target under both headings. This and the phoney tax audits of foreign companies which were aggressively covered by the press to mask the selective prosecution of Yukos and are now being resolved for pennies on the dollar further demonstrate the complete lawlessness, manipulation and improper purpose that are the hall marks of the present Kremlin.

The debasement of judicial independence as evidenced by the decisions in both Yukos and Khodorkovsky, involving grotesque violations of the right to counsel, right to liberty and right to a fair trial, has done enormous damage to Russian claims of judicial improvement. The willingness of Western courts to enforce decisions of intellectually and morally bankrupt Russian courts as found by the Parliamentary Council of Europe in its recent report concerning Yukos executives serves as a high water mark with respect to western Europe collaborating with the worst tendencies of executive interference in the judiciary. How Russia can use international treaties to enforce these decisions while thumbing its nose at the most basic principles of the European Convention on Human Rights leads the administration of justice in Europe into disrepute.

If the purchase of Sibneft stands for anything other than the selective prosecution of Yukos it stands for the big lie that somehow the Kremlin is intent on attacking either oligarchs or corruption. The Kremlin and the seven advisers closest to Putin control over one quarter trillion dollars of energy-related assets and seem intent on more. The continued silence of the West in respect to the theft of Yukos is being rewarded by a further watering-down of the market economy - the clear intent of the Kremlin is to replace the transparency of Khodorkovsky and Yukos with the black hole of Gazprom and Sibneft. While the West panders to a phoney Kremlin attack on alleged Yukos money laundering it fails to explore who are the partners of Abromovich in his sale of Sibneft assets to the Kremlin.

"Fuel diplomacy" is a term presently used to describe the fairly brazen use by the Kremlin of energy as weapon to be deployed not only for state purposes, but for the very improper purpose of disciplining foreign countries such as the United States or Holland who dare to attack Kremlin policies or practices. Beyond the use of poultry or flowers it is energy that has been used in the "near abroad" of the Ukraine, Baltics and Moldova to discipline neighbours whose policies or pricing is not seen as consistent with the Kremlin. The recent intervention by Russia in the domestic politics of Germany in the staging of the Baltic pipeline signing (a deal that contains a substantial political component) and the pipeline itself demonstrate Europe's weak-kneed willingness to substitute Russia's interests for those of the Baltics or Poland. Why the seizure of Yukos and restructuring of the oil industry by the Kremlin has not been reviewed by the competition authorities in Europe is beyond one's imagination, given the unlimited attack on US industries conducted time and time again by Brussels.

My expulsion and the attempt to disbar my Russian colleagues which commenced at 1 AM that September morning has represented to me just one small example of where Europe, sleeping on these fundamental issues, leaves human rights and the rule of law.

Robert Amsterdam is international defense counsel for Mikhail Khodorkovsky

JURIST - Forum, 10.20.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

International Herald Tribune : Founder of Yukos sent to Siberia


MOSCOW The Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been sent to Siberia to serve his eight-year sentence, the authorities said Thursday, sparking outrage among his defense lawyers and rights advocates.

Khodorkovsky's supporters said sending him to the other side of the vast Russian Federation was a continuation of a Kremlin campaign to isolate the critic of President Vladimir Putin's leadership.

Penal officials said the 42-year-old oil tycoon, once Russia's richest man, had arrived at camp IK-10, near the border with China and 6,000 kilometers, or 3,730 miles, from his native Moscow, to serve his sentence for fraud and tax evasion. Human rights groups accused the authorities of violating Russian law by sending him so far from his home and family.

"It is a normal camp providing normal living conditions," the Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Pleshkov, head of the local prison administration, as saying.

Khodorkovsky's whereabouts had been the subject of intense speculation since he was transferred from a jail in Moscow after losing his appeal against conviction in September.

Supporters said Khodorkovsky, who built up the oil company Yukos, was the victim of a Kremlin campaign to neutralize him as a political rival and break up his company. Russian officials said he was a common criminal.

Khodorkovsky's associate, Platon Lebedev, who also was sentenced to eight years, has been sent to a prison camp above the Arctic circle.

IK-10 camp, near Krasnokamensk, has about 1,000 inmates, according to Khodorkovsky's press center. Its original inmates in the 1960s helped build a uranium processing plant, though the camp now produces only textiles like clothing and bedding.

Khodorkovsky's legal team was working out how to visit him, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported. "The road there is not an easy one. A six-hour flight and a seven-hour drive," said a defense lawyer, Genrikh Padva.

International Herald Tribune, 10.20.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

BBC : Khodorkovsky's prison

YaG-14/10, the penal colony where Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is set to serve out at least some of his eight-year jail sentence for tax evasion and fraud, is a Soviet-era prison in Siberia.
It stands just outside the town of Krasnokamensk, in the eastern Siberian province of Chita, near Russia's Chinese border.

An inmate can expect to earn 23.23 roubles day ($0.81, £0.46) for his prison labour, according to Siberian news website Zabinfo.

In a history of the colony, the website notes that it was set up in 1967 to service local uranium mines.

However, contrary to popular belief, inmates were not put to work in the mines but worked in concrete factories or vehicle repair workshops, the website says.

Today, YaG-14/10 is chiefly a garment factory where inmates sew protective clothing for the prison system and the police, as well as making bed linen and doing private orders.

Young population

Khodorkovsky will find himself about 4,700km (3,000 miles) east of Moscow.

On the evening the name of his prison was revealed, it was -9C in Krasnokamensk; by January, the average daily temperature should range between -18C and -33C.

According to Zabinfo, most of YaG-14/10's inmates are serving between three and five years and the average age is 24 - significantly younger than Khodorkovsky, 42.

The most common conviction is theft with 40% of inmates sentenced for it.

In addition to garments, the colony has a sawmill and workshops producing wooden furniture and souvenirs.

Pigs and cows are reared by the prison farm.

BBC, 10.20.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

RADIO LIBERTY : Khodorkovskii Sent To Remote Siberian Prison

Penal officials have announced that the jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovskii has been taken to a far-flung Siberian camp to serve his eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion. The news was met with dismay by his defense lawyers and rights activists, who accuse the authorities of seeking to isolate Khodorkovskii and break his morale.

Moscow, 21 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Aleksandr Pleshkov, the head of the Siberian corrections administration, on 20 October confirmed rumors that Khodorkovskii had arrived in a Siberian prison camp.

Pleshkov's announcement ended intense speculation about Khodorkovskii's whereabouts since he was removed from his remand jail in Moscow more than a week ago.

The 42-year-old founder of the Yukos oil firm, once Russia's richest man, will serve his sentence in Chita Oblast, in eastern Siberia. The camp lies near the Chinese border, some 5,000 kilometers from his native Moscow.

In order to visit him, his relatives and lawyers will now have to take a six-hour flight from the Russian capital, followed by a seven-hour car ride.

Pleshkov described the prison as "a normal camp with normal conditions" and said it held no dangerous criminals.

But this has done little to assuage Khodorkovskii's defense lawyers and human rights activists, who accuse the authorities of trying to isolate him and break him psychologically.

Khodorkovskii was convicted in May on charges of fraud and tax evasion in what many regard as a Kremlin-led campaign to crush a charismatic political opponent and regain control of Russia's strategic oil resources.

He exhausted his appeals in September.

Lev Ponomarev is the director of the All-Russian Movement For Human Rights. He says sending Khodorkovskii to Siberia is a violation of Russian law, which stipulates that inmates must serve their sentences close to their homes.

His transfer to a remote prison, Ponomarev told RFE/RL, is the latest move in the Kremlin's bid to punish him for his political ambitions.

"It's revenge on the part of the authorities, of the Kremlin, and of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin personally," Ponomarev said. "It violates Russian law because relatives cannot visit them [Khodorkovskii and fellow defendant Platon Lebedev]. Our country is headed by small-minded, vindictive people. Mere revenge -- that's the only motive."

The Khodorkovskii case has raised serious concern in the West about Putin's commitment to democratic values.

Ponomarev says he hopes Western countries will not balk at denouncing Khodorkovskii's transfer to a Siberian prison.

"It's revenge on the part of the authorities, of the Kremlin, and of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin personally," activist Lev Ponomarev said. "It violates Russian law because relatives cannot visit them [Khodorkovskii and fellow defendant Platon Lebedev]. Our country is headed by small-minded, vindictive people. Mere revenge -- that's the only motive.""I think leaders of Western countries have a duty to react to this," he said. "I am very much hoping that the Western world will react to this, will force our leaders to adhere to their own laws in this particular case."

Anton Drel, one of Khodorkovskii's defense team, said his client has already consulted a local attorney.

"A lawyer called from the city of Krasnokamesnk in the Chita region and informed us that he had met with Mikhail Khodorkovskii, that the quarantine was over," Drel said. "I think his Moscow lawyers will be able to visit him in the course of next week."

Khodorkovskii has another six years to serve, having already spent two years in a Moscow pretrial detention center.

The camp where he is due to serve his term is reported to have a population of about 1,000 inmates, most of them convicted of fraud or theft.

When the prison opened in the 1960s, inmates initially helped build a large uranium-processing plant. Today, the camp manufactures only textiles, but the region remains heavily contaminated with radioactive waste.

Lebedev, Khodorkovskii's associate who has been handed an identical sentence, has ended up in a prison in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, beyond the Arctic circle.


Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kommersant: Mikhail Khodorkovsky Was Sent to Uranium Mines

Yesterday there was information that Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be doing his time in the correctional facility of town of Krasnokamensk, Chita Region. The relatives and lawyers of the ex-YUKOS head so far do not have proof for this information. The correctional facility and Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) left this information without any comments.

Right after the removal of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev from the Matrosskaya Tishina Prison, there were several suggestions where they might end up. Primarily, people was looking for Khodorkovsky in special correctional labor facility #13 in Saratov Region, but this information did not receive a further confirmation. Yesterday, Chita’s news agency Zabinfo reported that inmate Khodorkovsky arrived last Saturday in town of Krasnokamensk, Chita Region. He will be doing time in local correctional labor facility YG-14/10 and already appointed into the 8th Prison Regiment.

The correctional labor facility of minimum security YG-14/10 is located 2 kilometers off Krasnokamensk – second biggest town in Chita Region. Currently the facility holds about 1,000 inmates, majority of whom sentenced for three to five years for a theft. The labor facility was founded in this location in the end of 1960’s - after the discovery of Streltsovskoe uranium deposits. Soon, there was Priargunsky mining and chemical plant built in this place for the processing of uranium ore. By 1987 the plant was providing 30 percent of total uranium production in USSR. Currently, the plant was renamed to Priargunsky Mining and Chemical Association (part of the concern TVEL, which is the only uranium mining enterprise in Russia and one of the world largest suppliers of natural uranium). As the result of the mining activities, several radioactive polluted zones appeared next to the town of Krasnokamensk. Ecological organizations repeatedly raised an issue of harmful influence of the output of uranium to Krasnokamensk and adjacent regions. The inmates are not being used for work in uranium mines; earlier they were commandeered to build the plant and its infrastructures. The correctional facility has the sewing production, the section of wood processing, joiner and souvenir shop, and auxiliary cattle-breeding farm.

The officer on duty of YG-14/10 told Kommersant that he cannot confirm or reject the information about inmate Khodorkovsky. The local office of FPS of Chita Region also refused to comment on the question. The press service of FPS said that they heard the news only from Kommersant correspondent and that FPS has no information about the location of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. However, the Kommersant sources in FSB were not surprise by the news at all. “We knew already ten days ago where Khodorkovsky would be sent, “ the sources said. Attorney Genrikh Padva also learned from Kommersant Korrespondent about Khodorkovsky possible location in Krasnokamensk and could not comment on the information. Anton Drel’, another attorney of ex-YUKOS head, told Kommersant that he doesn’t know anything about the location and will wait for official confirmation of the information. “I talked today with Mikhail’s spouse and parents,” Drel’ said. “They also are not aware of the location and they did not receive any official notifications.”

The defense of Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky hopes to receive soon an official document, which would reveal the location of their clients. On October 13, as Kommersant already wrote, the defense submitted the petition with demand to know where the clients are and what their health status is. This petition was submitted during the meeting with investigator at General Prosecution Office Mikhail Tumanov (he investigates the case about money laundering, which most likely will result new charges for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev). “So far, investigator Tumanov did not answer our question,” Evgeny Baru, Lebedev’s attorney, said. “But we’ll wait. He is responsible now for our clients.”

The defense worries mostly about the conditions of their clients. “For all this time –during the transportation—our clients were out of the reach for the legal defense,” Baru pointed out. “We will be further protecting their legal rights.” The lawyers are getting ready to work with Khodorkovsky and Lebedev’ new cases. “We still don’t know how we are going to work,” Baru continued. “It looks like the authorities will be transporting our clients from place to place.”

by Marina Lepina
Kommersant, 10.20.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

BBC : Khodorkovsky jail move 'riddle'

Confusion and mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of oil giant Yukos who was found guilty of tax evasion and fraud.
When lawyers for Mr Khodorkovsky went to meet their client, they were told he had been moved from a Moscow jail to finish his sentence at another prison.

Authorities declined to give details, and speculation has been rife as to where the troubled tycoon will end up.

Mr Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, is serving an eight year sentence.

'Like everyone else'

His fall from power, lengthy trial and subsequent imprisonment have dominated headlines in Russia and abroad.

A founder of Yukos, the Russian oil and gas giant, Mr Khodorkovsky built up a multi-billion pound fortune before falling foul of the authorities.

Critics accuse him of ripping off his homeland's natural wealth for personal gain, while supporters say he is paying the price for his political ambitions and links to opponents of President Vladimir Putin.

Along with his business associate Platon Lebedev, Mr Khodorkovsky has been in jail since October 2003.

After being held in Moscow, the pair have been sent to a penal colony to serve out the remainder of their sentences.

Newspaper reports have claimed that the two men are heading for Siberia, while others have asserted that they will be held in prisons closer to Moscow.

Russia's Federal Prison Service said that relatives would be contacted by mail - which is the normal procedure - when Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev arrive at their final destination.

Prison officials said that they would not receive them "like gods; they'll serve their time like everyone else".

BBC NEWS, 10.12.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Embassy : Jailed Russian Oil Tycoon's Lawyer Speaks

Russian Embassy says Robert Amsterdam acting too political, but would nevertheless consider granting him a visa.

By all appearances, the Canadian lawyer for a jailed Russian oil tycoon, whose conviction triggered howls of political oppression, seems unshaken by the late-night visit of six police officers to his Moscow hotel room late last month.

Robert Amsterdam didn't follow law enforcement to the station, as he was reportedly asked to do, but the encounter left him with 24 hours to depart the country. The confrontation happened only hours after his client, former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had his appeal rejected on charges of fraud and tax evasion but saw his sentenced reduced by one year to eight.

Last week, visiting colleagues at an Ottawa law office, his tie undone and slung around his neck, Mr. Amsterdam says his deportation exhibits all the signs of Russia's crushing democratic deficit.

"I think the Russian government exiling me has done me a tremendous favour in terms of demonstrating a lot of what I have been saying is behind their conduct," he says, calling his ordeal indicative of attacks President Vladimir Putin is waging on the free press, non-governmental organizations and the electoral system.

"All of these reflect instability, insecurity and incompetence that is nearly unparalleled," says Mr. Amsterdam.

Mr. Khodorkovsky is one of the better-known billionaire business people who gobbled up state enterprises and made vast fortunes from the privatization of the Russian oil industry. He later tried his hand at politics, as adversary to the current government, but now from behind bars Mr. Khodorkovsky isn't able to get parliamentary immunity to run for the Duma, the state parliament. His oil company, Yukos, is under state control.

Mr. Amsterdam says his client has become the unfortunate poster boy for a much wider campaign by the Russian government to "destroy civil society" in a country of over 141 million people. The Putin administration has invoked fear to the extent that corporations no longer donate to charities to avoid raising suspicions that could lead to police intervention, he says.

"Russia is more corrupt than any system I've seen," says Mr. Amsterdam, who has sought justice in cases from Nigeria to Guatemala and Venezuela. "The situation, in my view, can only be described as an emergency situation because the government is not only engaged in massive corruption, but in the destruction of institutions... and any attempt to build an independent judiciary."

Two years ago, Mr. Amsterdam, a partner of the small Toronto firm Amsterdam & Peroff, was a surprise choice to represent Mr. Khodorkovsky in a high profile trial.

He built the case with a team of American and Russian lawyers, and in that time Mr. Khodorkovsky earned Mr. Amsterdam's respect and admiration. "We get on well," says Mr. Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Mr. Amsterdam's own relationship with the Kremlin soured as the outspoken lawyer repeatedly accused the government of violating international legal principles.

After prolonged silence on Mr. Amsterdam's frequent complaints of government misconduct, the Russian Embassy in Canada shot back last week.

First Secretary Alexey D. Lisenkov says Mr. Amsterdam's revoked visa has been a topic of conversation among diplomats in Ottawa, but the mission hadn't been in direct contact with Moscow on the details. "Our opinion is that he's not acting like a lawyer, but a political figure," says Mr. Lisenkov. "This is a last resort because he's not able to achieve his goal by his professional skills."

Mr. Lisenkov accuses Mr. Amsterdam of politicizing the incident. "It's not a political case. There are many cases in other countries as well that deal with tax evasion," he says.

Mr. Amsterdam says he's compelled to engage the Yukos case on a political level. "I am doing my job as a lawyer to point out the Russian court's lack independence," he says.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Amsterdam says his work takes place in the corridors of power of Washington and Europe ­ what he calls an attempt "to fight a political fight, politically."

He explains: "If you solely fight within the legal system, which is corrupted and morally bankrupt... you are fighting their game. If you appeal to the press and put facts before international bodies, then you defeat their game."

For instance, lawyers were given only a week to leaf through piles of documents after last month's appeal was suddenly moved up. Russian lawyers on the defence side are now at threat of disbarment, says Mr. Amsterdam.

The Kremlin doesn't "mind demonstrating to its own people that it can dominate and control the courts, and they do it regularly and with impunity because the West does not demand any more of them," says Mr. Amsterdam.

Mr. Amsterdam continues his advisory role on the legal team by phone and email. The Supreme Court of Russia and European Court of Human Rights are two avenues of appeal that may be pursued, he says.

Without question, says Mr. Amsterdam, he would like to return to Russia some day if authorities grant him a visa.

"I have not violated Russian laws," he says. "I would hope that someone in the legal department, as opposed to the political department of the Russian Federation, might understand that it would do them some good to turn to international law instead of political whim."

The Russian Embassy in Ottawa would consider a meeting with Mr. Amsterdam if one is requested. "If he applies for a visa I believe that we would consider this," says Mr. Lisenkov.
Embassy - Newspaper Online., 10.12.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article

Kommersant: Mikhail Khodorkovsky Got Lost On the Way

// …to the law security prison facility
By yesterday evening the lawyers of Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were still unable to find their clients, who were transferred from Moscow on Sunday. The attorneys say that they are not worrying as much about the final destination of the inmates, but they would like to know where they are now, how many more stops they have to go through and how they are taking the trip. The Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS), using its lawful right, keeps the silence.
The representatives of FPS told Kommersant that information about the movements of the inmates is not secret, but it is designed only for the internal agency use. In other words, only a limited amount of people know it. Only one representative from the inmate can be included in this circle. The prisoner, according to the FPS officers, chooses one trustee already during the investigation. The name, address and phone number of this trustee is registered in the case file for the suspect. And if the suspect is convicted and becomes a prisoner, the trustee information is recorded in the inmate’s personal file.

In this particular case, the trustees of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are their wives. However, according to the attorneys both women yesterday did not know the location of their husbands. And there is nobody and nowhere to complain to – even the lawyers admit that FPS follows the law.

The head of Moscow prison Matrosskaya Tishina Fikret Tagiev, who sent Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to a different prison facility, had to notify the relatives in the same day or in the next day if the transfer was made late night. The law does not require the prison administration to call to the trustees – the notification is sent by mail. Tagiev, according to the attorneys, has sent the letter, but when it will arrive and if it will arrive at all, is not his business. Taking into the consideration that the letter even within the Moscow could be delivered several days, the lawyers of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are planning to find out about their dependents’ fate on Wednesday or Thursday.

If this will not happen, the inmates might let to know about themselves only in the end of the month. “After the arrival to the prison facility, all inmates are going through two-week quarantine, “Oleg Trunov, head of the Internet site (Inmate). “During this procedure the prisoners are being checked by the medics, and also, who was doing want type of job outside of the jail, with whom inmate can work together, with whom he can live in the same quarters, and so on. While the quarantine is still in effect, the head of the prison facility writes to the relatives of newly arrived inmate, where he puts the serial number, address and phone number of the facility. After the quarantine is over, the prisoner himself can call his relatives and even ask for their visit.”

The attorneys think that it is no point to guess now where both prisoners are. In theory, it is possible to suggest that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev would be kept in Moscow Region or not far from it. For the officers of FPS does not make sense to break the Criminal Code, which indicates that the convict should do his time in the area of the Russian Federation, where he was residing or committed the crime. Besides, it is easier to bring Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to Moscow for new interrogations if they are in the Central Region.

From the other side, according to the lawyers, the same Criminal Code gives FPS an opportunity to take the inmate to the far end of Russia, “if the closest prison facilities are full” or “not designed for his containment.” In that case, if the inmate suddenly will be needed by the General Prosecution Office, he can always be transferred back – the amount of time spent on the way does not matter, because the travel time is included into the prison term.

“I think, this is artificially created secrecy,” Evgeny Baru, the attorney of Platon Lebedev, told Kommersant. “The heads of the FPS decided to take my client through the all “circles of hell” on the way to the new facility, and it is understandable, they do not want any publicity. For that matter, I am personally interested not where Lebedev and Khodorkovsky are being taken, but where are they now and how they feel.”

By Sergey Mashkin

Kommersant, 10.12.2005

Free Khodorkovsky! Free Russia!
Print article