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Berlin 'very worried' after Khodorkovsky sentence

The Local · 30 Dec 2010, 16:48

Published: 30 Dec 2010 16:48 GMT+01:00

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"The German government is very worried by the verdict in the Khodorkovsky case," deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said in a statement.

"The trial and the sentence raise serious questions about respect for the rule of law and mark a step backward on the path to modernising Russia on which President Dmitry Medvedev had embarked."

Steegmans said Berlin would continue to keep close tabs on Khodorkovsky's treatment by the Russian justice system and noted that Germany had frequently called for him to receive a fair trial.

In a strongly worded statement issued minutes later, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the sentence "confirmed my worst fears" and was "completely unacceptable."

"The announcements by Russian politicians that they plan to respect the rule of law in the future have shown themselves to be hollow," she said.

"The new trial, the conviction and the sentence itself are clearly politically motivated. The fact he will be locked away for years can only be explained by the fact that Khodorkovsky is apparently seen as political competition by the powerful in Russia."

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the latest conviction "regrettable" after a trial that had been marred by "many doubts."

"It is in Russia's interest to take the concerns of the international community about the outcome of the trial and how it was conducted into account," he said.

The Russian court had earlier this week convicted the Yukos oil company founder in his second trial on money laundering and embezzlement charges, a verdict condemned by the United States and other European countries.

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Taking into account time served since first his first arrest in 2003, the verdict means that Khodorkovsky will stay in jail until 2017, his official website said.

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


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:43 December 30, 2010 by tallady
Viktor and Marina Kalashnikov.,now thought to be poisoned by mercury,here in Berlin,Alexander Litvinenko murdered by radioactive poisoning in London,,and Mikhail Khodorkovsky is jailed for another 6 years,,all have become victims of Mr.Putin. all have one thing in common ,they were critical of the Kremlin..

I can understand why Germany might have some reservations about the Russian government .
19:29 December 30, 2010 by bernie1927
What if the guy really is a crook? Maybe he deserves it and besides, isn't this a strictly internal matter and should not concern the Germans, don't you agree?

Here in the States we constantly meddle in other countries' business but object fiercely when other countries object to our shenanigans. Do the Germans want to again ape us?
21:21 December 30, 2010 by wxman
Sure the USSR is "gone", but some countries just naturally gravitate toward totalitarianism. One form goes away, only to be replaced by another that looks just like it. People who have never been free, fear freedom. Too much personal responsibility required.
00:13 December 31, 2010 by sonriete
Obviously he did commit multi billion dollar crimes back in the '90's.

The Western position seems to be that since many have gotten away with it, all should get away with it.

Is 14 years really such a harsh penalty for all his crimes?

In America people sometimes serve sentences like that for stealing an automobile.
09:20 December 31, 2010 by freechoice
what a nice way to celebrate the new year...
10:14 December 31, 2010 by catjones
Out of all the true injustice in the world, you have to wonder why Merkel stands up for this particular guy.
16:38 December 31, 2010 by tallady
Khodorkovsky had expressed a desire to run for office at one time and funded opposition political parties,it was after this that the charges of fraud and tax evasion were pursued by the questionable Justice system. Maybe we should believe this is mere coincidence ,but there have been to many coincidences to be duped into believing the Kremlin..
20:42 December 31, 2010 by sonriete

Everyone agrees he is a target of selective prosecution because he crossed Putin.

But that is no reason to protest his imprisonment if the truth is he did commit massive crimes back in the '90's, which we all know he did.
03:11 January 1, 2011 by Ludwig von America
This guy is not innocent. He did in fact commit crimes. Unlike in America, being rich in Russia doesn't get you off the hook. We've got hundreds just like him in America who should go to jail. Instead, we give them billions in taxpayer bailout money and watch as they give themselves big bonuses and throw lavish parties. Whoever defends Khodorovsky and criticizes Russia are hypocrites. They say what Russia is doing is politically motivated when in fact their criticism of Russia is itself politically motivated. Just more Russia bashing.
07:28 January 1, 2011 by jimfromcanada
I think it would be reasonable for Mr K to get such a sentence if all the other oligarchs who stole Russian State property in order to enrich themselves were arrested and went to jail. Also if Russia had a functional critical media, and court system, then it would be reasonable. As it is now Russia is an Alice in Wonderland with real executioners.
10:05 January 1, 2011 by tallady
sonriete,,perhaps,,but my faith in their judicial and political systems creates large doubts as to the reality of the 2003 charges,,

The latest round of his legal problems is so politically transparent ,I have no banner to flout for this individual ,only the obvious motives behind his incarceration. I find these disturbing .
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