Russia rejects Western criticism of Khodorkovsky case | Pakistan Today

Russia rejects Western criticism of Khodorkovsky case

MOSCOW – Russia on Friday rejected the West’s criticism of a court decision to keep Kremlin critic and ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail until 2017 in a case watched as a barometer of the country’s democratic progress.
“The opinions expressed there (in the West) should not and absolutely do not affect the decisions taken by the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation,” news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
“They are independent of both the Russian and the foreign authorities,” Lavrov stressed.
The US State Department and the European Union led a chorus of international condemnation of the sentence delivered Thursday in the second trial of the Yukos oil company founder and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev. A Moscow judge found the pair – already in prison since 2003 on tax evasion charges – guilty of money laundering and embezzlement and extended their jail stay for the six years the prosecution sought.
The defence has called the decision “lawlessness” and on Friday filed an initial appeal. “This is a preliminary appeal because we still do not have the official text of the sentence or the court protocol,” lawyer Karina Moskalenko told AFP by telephone.
The case has been watched by Western governments as a test of the country’s commitment to the court independence and modernisation championed by President Dmitry Medvedev.
But disappointment echoed across international capitals following a decision that some officials said confirmed their worst fears about Russia. Washington had been seeking to “reset” a relationship with Moscow that suffered several dark patches during the presidency of Medvedev’s strongman predecessor Vladimir Putin.
But the State Department issued an unusually frank assessment of a trial which saw now-premier Putin declare on national television during the process that a “thief must be in prison”.

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