Retrial of Russian businessman begins in Moscow

Russian businessman Alexei Kozlov, who was freed last month after spending two years in jail for fraud, is being retried at a Moscow court on Thursday.

The Supreme Court ordered Kozlov’s release in September, largely thanks to the efforts of his wife, journalist Olga Romanova, and rights activists, who had campaigned for his release.

Prosecutors say Kozlov illegally seized a 30 percent stake in a firm making artificial leather, a claim he has denied.

The businessman has always maintained the evidence against him was fabricated by his partner Vladimir Slutsky, a former deputy in Russia’s upper house of parliament.

Speaking to Kommersant daily on Monday, business rights activist Yana Yakovleva said there was little hope of a not-guilty verdict in the new trial.

“I doubt our Russian courts can acquit anybody at all, they can’t do it,” she said. “For them, an acquittal is the hardest thing ever.”


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