Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Khodorkovsky to appeal Wednesday
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed oil magnate whose empire was carved up in a politically charged campaign, was to appear in court Wednesday to appeal a nine-year sentence handed down in May after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion.
But as before his grueling 12-day verdict reading, lawyers for Russia's once-richest man suggested his chances of a reduced sentence were faint. According to analysts, Khodorkovsky's bid for parliament and his increasingly combative behind-bars criticism of President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin have ensured he will be kept in jail for years to come.
In an interview with Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung, posted Monday on his defense team's Web site, Khodorkovsky called the hearings at the Moscow City Court "a formality."
"They have been informed of the political decision right down to the formal writing of the verdict," he said.
Lawyers have said that if the appeal fails they will take their case to the Supreme Court; they have already filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights.
Yesterday, both supporters and opponents of Khodorkovsky rallied in Moscow. From Interfax:
Members of We Are with Khodorkovsky and Lev Ponomaryov-led Human Rights movements are rallying on Pushkin Square in Moscow. Opponents of Khodorkovsky are trying to disrupt the rally.
Metal barriers have been placed on Pushkin Square dividing it into sections occupied Khodorkovsky's supporters and their opponents, an Interfax correspondent reports.
Members of the Irina Khakamada-led Our Choice Party, the Union of Right Forces, the Oborona Youth Movement and a number of human rights activists are taking part in the rally. They are holding posters reading "Freedom to Russian Political Prisoners!", "Freedom to Victims of Espionage!" and "No to Political Reprisals! Freedom to Decembrists!".
Several dozen young people are wearing white T-shirts with a picture of prison bars and an inscription "MBK to Jail!" with about 50 protesters blowing soccer horns and holding anti-Khodorkovsky posters.