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Khodorkovsky trial called 'step back' for Russia

The Local · 27 Dec 2010, 17:15

Published: 27 Dec 2010 12:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Dec 2010 17:15 GMT+01:00

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"The way the trial has been conducted is extremely dubious and a step backward on the road toward a modernisation of the country," he said in a statement.

"It is in the interest of our Russian partners to take these concerns seriously and to stand up for the rule of law, democracy and human rights."

Westerwelle, who is also Germany's vice chancellor, brought up Khodorkovsky's second trial during a visit to Moscow November 1 and said top German officials were closely following the case.

Deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans opened a regular briefing earlier Monday with a statement underlining Berlin's serious concerns about the trial but declined to comment on the verdict until it is published.

"For the German government, respect for the rule of law in trials, as President (Dmitry) Medvedev has called for and as the chancellor (Angela Merkel) has frequently said, are being put to the test with this trial," he said.

"Respecting the rule of law in trials is of the greatest importance for the development of a modern state based on the rule of law in Russia. The German government has followed this trial critically from the start and will continue to watch how it develops with close attention."

Asked whether Berlin would consider "consequences" for Russia over the trial, Steegmans declined to comment until German officials had read the complete verdict against Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky's supporters see him as a martyr punished for daring to challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin by financing opposition parties but Russian officials view him as a corrupt mogul who profited by breaking the law.

Story continues below…

Germany's ambassador in Moscow, Ulrich Brandenburg, had told Interfax Saturday that Berlin saw the latest verdict as a test of the rule of law and said that the case had spooked German investors in Russia.

The two countries have a lucrative trade relationship. Russian exports to Germany reached €25 billion ($33 billion) in 2009 while German exported nearly 21 billion euros in goods and services to Russia.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:56 December 27, 2010 by tallady
This is a clear statement that you do not challenge Russia's Alpha male Mr. Putin.Could be worse, could have been a radio active injection or a stabbing by the elevator or an unmarked grave.
12:58 December 27, 2010 by HIGNFY
I always thought Putin was a tough-guy but he's apparently still scared of Khodorkovsky even after all this time.
13:36 December 27, 2010 by freechoice
with assets like him, i am sure there are plenty of hitmen waiting to queue up to take his job. dun be surprise one fine day that alpha male may fall out of the blue.
15:13 December 27, 2010 by deutschamer
It should not be surprising that Khodorkovsky is on trial. What is surprising is that all of the Oligarchs are not on trial. I never understood why the western media and politicians were enamored with Boris Yeltsin. He was wild, crazy, totally incompetent and destroyed huge Russian opportunities after the fall of communism. It was he who allowed and assisted the outright stealing of state assets by the Oligarchs. Khodorkovsky is no innocent poor picked on hero. He is a creepy rip-off artist. Last of all, its none of Germany's business.
17:14 December 27, 2010 by michael4096
Last of all, its none of Germany's business.

Didn't you hear the joke about the 3 monkeys and the gas contract?
23:41 December 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
What exactly is Schröder's connection to Gazprom, again?
16:05 December 30, 2010 by Curmudgeon
Foreign Ministers must be reading from script. Canada's Foreign Minister also called the conviction of a known felon to be a step backward.

I call it a step forward. Khodorkovsky is just one of hundreds worldwide who have been front men for the bankers stealing national assets.

As for the "respect for the rule of law in trials", this would be funny if it weren't so tragic. Germany is a country that prosecutes its citizens for questioning its "official" history, which was given to it by the countries that occupy it.
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