20 years under Putin: a timeline

On May 24th the court of appeal on the second case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev was heard in the Moscow City Court. The result was predictable: the appeal was denied, though the sentence was slightly mitigated (1 year). And again it was widely condemned by the human rights organizations, world leaders and the media.


On the day before the hearing Joe Nocera in his op-ed in the New York Times stated that the former Yukos CEOs would be undoubtedly convicted again and shrewdly observed that in Russia the illusion of justice was created: "That’s the way it works in Russia when somebody crosses the country’s ruling plutocrats. They get sent to Siberia on phony charges". As Financial Times’ reporter Catherine Belton  noted on the subject: "For several years now these two men have been trapped in a judicial vortex that answers to political not legal considerations." 

After the appeal was denied, Amnesty International criticized Lebedev and Khodorkovsky's second trial and declared them prisoners of conscience,calling for their release on the expiry of their initial sentences. Later in the day European Union High Representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton, joined German Federal Foreign and Justice Ministers, UK Minister of State for Europe and the Chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, in condemning the appeal verdict. 

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also expressed his disappointment at the news: "This case was marred with alleged violations of due process and fair trial from the very start. It shows unfortunately that there is still a very long path for Russia to take to improve its rule of law and protection of human rights. Words should be followed by concrete acts. Modernisation of Russia can be successful only if it is based on establishment of a functioning system of rule of law, independent and impartial judiciary and a strong civil society”, he said.