Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for December 1st, 2009

Khodorkovsky’s Lawyer: Everything Putin Said “Is Very Big Lie…”

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

Vadim Klyuvgant, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, has criticized Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s comparison of Khodorkovsky with US fraudster Bernard Maddoff and gangster Al Capone.Putin’s arguments do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny – the facts are mixed up.”

On the comparison with Al Capone, Klyuvgant said: “Those who destructed YUKOS and pocketed its assets are a more likely comparison to gangsters. They were the ones who caused Russia billions of dollars in damages.”

Noting Putin’s remark about Khodorkovsky’s “bloody” background, Klyuvgant stressed that the implications have no grounds. No evidence to Khodorkovsky’s criminal involvement has ever been presented to any court. He concluded that everything Putin said “is a very big lie serving only one purpose – to create negative atmosphere around the trial.”

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Colleagues Urge Investigation Into Russian Journalist’s Death – “Situation Is Worse Than In Final Years Of Soviet Union”

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

Olga Kotovskaya, a prominent journalist in Kaliningrad, fell from 14th-storey window a day after winning major legal case.Olga Kotovskaya, a prominent journalist in the western enclave of Kaliningrad, died on 16 November. Officials initially claimed her death was suicide, but last week opened a criminal investigation into claims that she had been murdered.

Kotovskaya fell from a window a day after winning a long-running court battle to regain control of her successful Kaskad regional TV channel. Founded in the early 90s, the channel had a reputation for objective news reporting, live broadcasts, and studio guests who were sometimes critical of regional leaders. In 2004, a group of local bureaucrats seized control of the channel, which immediately stopped criticising the enclave’s administration.

A day before Kotovskaya’s death, a court ruled that her signature on a document giving her company to its new owners had been forged.

“I have no doubt at all that this was a political killing,” Solomon Ginzburg, a deputy in Kaliningrad’s regional parliament, said. “It was murder. Olga was a strong, feisty woman. A year before her death, she came to me and said that a high-ranking official had urged her to drop her legal case.” Ginzburg said Kotovskaya was not an opposition activist but was opposed to censorship. “I know a lot of journalists at Kaskad. They are pretty honest about what goes on. They talk openly about the fact they now have to paint the regional administration in rosy colours. The situation is worse than in the final years of the Soviet Union.”

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Moldovan Prime Minister Filat Reaches Out to Putin

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

Moldova’s simultaneous crises –economic and constitutional– have opened a door for Russia to influence politics in Chisinau and arbitrate the power struggles there. The dual crisis, ongoing since early spring, has deepened after two inconclusive parliamentary elections, four failed attempts to elect the head of state in parliament, and a drastic fall in budget and remittance revenues.

At present ,Russia is actively inserting itself into the Moldovan crisis, offering good offices and seeking allies of convenience. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held substantive talks with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat on November 20. Filat offered to “open a new chapter in Moldova-Russia relations.” He criticized former president (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin for having misled Russia with “empty promises that Voronin refused to implement.”

Filat about Putin as a “strong, pragmatic personality, well informed about our country,” Filat asked him to re-open Russia’s market for Moldovan wine (which the Kremlin had embargoed in 2006 to punish Voronin’s disobedience); and asked for the first $150 million tranche of a $500 million Russian loan. Filat also asked Putin to simplify residency permit requirements for Moldovan migrant workers in Russia; and urged Russian energy companies to invest in Moldova, as a possible springboard into European Union territory (?)

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Judges Rule Against Government Over Secret Evidence In Terror Cases

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

UK High court judgment says suspects cannot be detained without being able to answer charges made against them

Two men suspected of terrorism-related activities won a landmark high court battle today when judges ruled that a person could not be denied bail solely on the basis of secret evidence.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Owen, said bail applications should be treated the same as control order cases, where terror suspects must be given sufficient material to enable them to answer effectively the case made against them.

The ruling, which could have wider implications for the use of secret evidence, was described as a “historic” victory by human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

They also rejected government claims that decisions by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which deals with terror suspect cases, are immune from judicial review. Laws said judicial review was “a principal engine of the rule of law“.

The ruling was a victory for a Pakistani student facing removal from the UK, who was refused bail on the basis of secret evidence, and an Algerian national, “U”, whose bail was revoked.

The court’s “resounding no” to the idea that individuals could be detained on the basis of secret evidence, without recourse to apply to the high court for judicial review. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said it had taken a senior judge “to point out what most people already know – if the government is going to lock you up, it needs to tell you why”.

“Thanks to this historic judgment, the shadowy secret court system that has mushroomed under the ‘war on terror’ will now be exposed to the light of day,” she said.  more here in Guardian

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Den Haag: Khodorkovsky – Yukos Shareholders Win Right to Bring Claim Against Russia

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

A European arbitration panel in Den Haag Monday ruled that an expropriation claim valued at up to $100 billion by former shareholders of bankrupt oil giant OAO Yukos can proceed against the Russian government, the plaintiffs said.

The claim is by far the largest of a number of attempts by former Yukos shareholders to recover damages from Moscow outside Russia. Once Russia’s largest oil company, Yukos was crushed with tens of billions of dollars in back-tax claims starting in 2004, and its main assets were sold off to state-controlled Russian companies. Though Russian officials maintain the case was purely a matter of tax..more inThe Wall Street Journal

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Осетинский Политолог Получил Убежище В Германии

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

Бывший вице-спикер парламента Южной Осетии, политолог Алан Чочиев получил политическое убежище в Германии. По словам Чочиева, ему пришлось бежать за границу, чтобы спасти свою жизнь.

Чочиев имеет российское гражданство. До недавнего времени он жил в Северной Осетии. В августе 2008 года на дом Чочиева было совершено нападение. Тогда, как рассказали “Кавказскому узлу” родственники политолога, к ним ворвались двое вооруженных людей в масках, обыскали дом в поисках Алана и, не найдя его, ушли. Сам он предположил, что “это были люди из Южной Осетии”.

После этого Чочиев выехал в Словакию, а оттуда перебрался в Германию, где и попросил убежища.

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Media Should Feel Free In Covering War On Terror

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

Journalism requires freedom even in aspects of counteracting and preventing terrorism; it should not be an instrument of authorities’ propaganda. This was stated by Yuri Kazakov, former head of the state inspectorate for defence of the freedom of the press, and now an expert of the Fund in Defence of Glasnost and member of the Public Board on Complaints on Press, at the recent roundtable held in Moscow.

According to Mr Kazakov, self-censorship “is one of most disrespected and intolerable words for a journalist.” “Self-censorship is a very bad version of censorship, which is provoked from within by external pressure, which forces us to be afraid of everything in the world and elude debates.”

Russia’s anti-extremist laws give grounds to persecute dissidents , religious groups and public organizations; and these laws can be directed against written and oral statements. This was stated by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) in its report “Russian Society under Control”.

The antiterrorist law of March 6, 2006, has a number of provisions, which endanger the observance of human rights. First of all, it refers to definition of the notion of “terrorism”. Under the aegis of antiterrorist or anti-extremist legislation they pursue representatives of various communities, for example, of non-traditional Islam, and also use not quite lawful methods of counteracting terrorism and extremism (such as torture, illegal detentions and so forth).

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Putin Dodges Question on Magnitsky Death, Browder, Khodorkovsky And Killing Of Human Rights Activists

Posted by Info on 01/12/2009

“Everything that happens [in Russia] happens in the framework of the law,” Putin said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said  that he did not know the details of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death in pretrial detention, just days after President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation and prison officials admitted some responsibility.Magnitsky was held for almost a year over tax-evasion charges stemming from his work for Hermitage Capital Management. Putin has repeatedly told reporters that he has never heard of Hermitage chief Bill Browder, whose company was once Russia’s largest investment fund.

Browder, a U.S.-born British citizen, is prohibited from entering Russia under a law that bans people deemed as threatening “the security of the state, public order or public health.” He actively campaigned for better corporate governance at major Russian companies and accused Interior Ministry officials of a scheme to steal $230 million scheme in budget funds.

French journalist asked whether Putin was concerned that a lawyer died in jail, that human rights activists are killed… Putin said although human rights issues are important, prime ministers “are forced to address specific issues that have to do with industry and the economy.”

Refraining from referring to Magnitsky by name, Putin said, “Concerning specific people that you have mentioned. If the lawyer was in jail, then he was there not as a lawyer, but because there were claims against him. That a man has died in prison, that is a tragedy, very sorry…”

The comments sharply contrasted to the Kremlin’s reaction to the case. Ella Pamfilova, head of the president’s human rights council, condemned Magnitsky’s death as “a murder and a tragedy on Nov. 23. The following day, a criminal negligence investigation was opened on Medvedev’s orders, and on Thursday a senior prisons official said there were clearly violations in how Magnitsky was treated.

Two years earlier, at a G8 summit in St. Petersburg, then-President Putin responded angrily when asked about why Browder was banned.“To be honest, I don’t know why this particular person has been refused entry to Russia. I can imagine that this person has broken the laws of our country, and if others do the same, we’ll refuse them entry, too.”

In reference to a question about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former Yukos chief, Putin retorted Friday with a recount of the Bernard Madoff case. Putin also indirectly compared Khodorkovsky to notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone, who was accused of many crimes but ultimately charged and jailed for tax evasion.

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