After The Khodorkovsky Verdict

Monday a court in Moscow began reading out the guilty verdict for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, arduously plodding through the paperwork that somehow legalizes the state’s crime against the individual, while making the fantastical charges somehow possible. I know from my own experience that you can tell a guilty verdict from its first few opening paragraphs. There are specific turns of phrase there…

In general, it’s not important how long and how Danilkin is going to be reading, what’s important is what might the reaction of the country be to the verdict.

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With this question I turned to readers of our community in ЖЖ [the Russian LiveJournal–Trans.]. I shall remind of some opinions.

Opinion 1

To imagine what will be is pretty uncomplex. Recently minister Kudrin gave a number of flight from the country of capital for 10 months of the current year. Well, instead of the number voiced by him there will be a little (a lot) larger number. The flow of emigrants will be augmented by another several thousand people (in the % relation also not much, since the people are running already anyway even without this). The quantity of those coming out on Triumphal [Square–Trans.] will be augmented by several hundred people (now there are already over 2000, although a year ago there were a mere 500). Putin’s anti-rating will increase by several points. Another several thousand people will be “closed down” [imprisoned–Trans.] by majors and captains trying to take a bite out of others’ assets. In general, nothing will change either in daily life or in the trend in the way in which everything is going.

Opinion 2

The opposition is going to try and conduct a mass rally on the given theme, but more than 3-4 thousand people won’t come. But then with the verdict (any one, be it “a year”, or “suspended”) the court will bring the end of the whole system closer.

Opinion 3

With a not-guilty verdict the court will bring the end nearer for Putin personally, but will extend the life for the system, which is going to die off nevertheless, as an anachronism.

Opinion 4

The power may be bad. The system may be rotten and so on. But in so doing – smart and looks out for itself. If there will be some, any other kind of “diagnosis”, besides a not-guilty one, then a huge quantity of people will lose all doubts about the stupidity of the power. People have grown accustomed to putting up with thieves, but to agree to having your county be run by idiots is something nobody is going to do.

Opinion 5

Medvedev will fall by the wayside and Putin will return, with a bigger or smaller international scandal, or maybe a domestic scandal as well, because a Kuban all cut up into pieces with arms up to the elbow in blood, this is already not YUKOS, here there are real victims, and real blood. The outflow of capital together with rights holders, of course, will intensify. They, probably, want to make a “zero variant”, either add not more than there is already, or for additional investigation, i.e. to put a nasty blotch on the jacket for medvedev, but everybody won’t care one bit.

Opinion 6

They are going to exchange Mikhail Khodorkovsky for the contrabandist Viktor Bout sitting [behind bars–Trans.] in the USA.

…That’s the kind of opinions there are. Different ones, up to the improbable (opinion 6). I shall note: the variant of a complete and total acquittal of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev by judge Danilkin isn’t being entertained at all. And, as a development of the situation in the country – the triumph of justice, a course towards a renewal of the whole judicial system of Russia, immersed today in a routine of complete and total dependence on everybody and anybody at all, just not the law.

Grigory Pasko

Grigory Pasko is a Russian journalist and publisher of an environmental magazine. In November 1997 Pasko was arrested by FSB agents in Vladivostok and accused of espionage for publications on the environmental problems in the Japanese sea but found not guilty due to lack of evidence. He was found guilty of “abuse of his official position,” but released immediately under a general amnesty. He was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.His articles appear at Robert Amsterdam's website (http://www.robertamsterdam.com) and are reprinted with permission.

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