Russia Failed to Provide Khodorkovsky with Fair Trial, European Court Rules

Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once the richest man in Russia, was denied the right to a fair trial when he and his business partner Platon Lebedev were convicted for embezzlement and money laundering in December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

Khodorkovsky, who ran oil giant Yukos, once Russia’s largest company, has been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponents throughout the years. He was sent to prison for financial crimes while contending the two trials were engineered by the Kremlin to punish him for challenges to Putin and increase the Kremlin’s control over oil export revenues. The ex-oligarch spent 10 years in prison before he was released and left Russia after being pardoned by Putin in 2013.

Strasbourg-based ECHR said in the ruling however that it did not find any political motives in the criminal prosecution of Khodorkovsky or Lebedev, and that no compensation would be ordered.

“The court considers that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the nonpecuniary damage sustained by the applicants,” the ECHR said in its judgment.

Khodorkovsky welcomed the ruling in a statement on Facebook. 

“Today, an important conclusion was drawn on the international criminal law assessment of the ‘Yukos case,'” Khodorkovsky wrote. “Following six consecutive decisions by the ECHR on all aspects of the process, it has now been recognized that the Russian authorities’ actions against me and my colleagues were not a ‘fair trial.’”

Vadim Klyuvgant, a lawyer for Khodorkovsky, was quoted by Interfax as saying the defense was “satisfied” with the outcome, though in light of the ruling Khodorkovsky may appeal to the Russian Supreme Court over his second sentence.

Yukos was dismantled after Khodokovsky’s 2003 arrest and its main production assets were sold at auction and ended up in the hands of state oil company Rosneft.

Khodorkovsky lives in exile in London and now runs a project called the Civil Society Support Group in Russia. The endeavor is part of Khodorkovsky’s effort to unseat Putin from power.

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