Russian Justice Ministry hails Khodorkovsky ruling in Strasbourg

Criticism of the case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky as politically motivated will hopefully end now the European Court of Human Rights has rejected his lawyers’ claims, Russia’s justice minister said on Wednesday.

“The Yukos case is surrounded by too much hysteria and groundless, incompetent claims regarding Russia’s legal system,” Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said.

“Lawyers should do their job calmly and objectively – this is what the European court has demonstrated,” he said, adding that the Strasbourg court’s ruling “should certainly reduce the unscrupulous and incompetent polemics” about Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment.

The Strasbourg court ruled on Tuesday that the first trial of the jailed Russian oil tycoon was not politically motivated, as Khodorkovsky supporters have claimed. The Justice Ministry press office said on Wednesday other international courts would have to take the court’s ruling into account when considering Khodorkovsky’s lawsuits against Russia.

The former Yukos owner and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, were jailed in 2003 on embezzlement and tax evasion charges.

Although the Strasbourg court did not support Khodorkovsky’s claim that his trial had political background, it ordered Russia to pay the former tycoon 10,000 euros (over $14,400) in damages due to violations and procedural flaws during his detention in a remand prison, and more than 14,500 euros (about $21,000) in costs and expenses.

A source in Russia’s Justice Ministry said Khodorkovsky would receive the compensation within six months.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, says the charges against him are revenge for his funding of opposition parties during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, something the Russian authorities categorically deny.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were near the end of their eight-year prison term when they were sentenced to another six years in jail in December on charges of embezzling oil from Yukos an laundering the proceeds.

Last month, a Moscow court upheld the two men’s second conviction, but cut their sentences by a year. Amnesty International subsequently recognized Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as prisoners of conscience.

MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti)

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