ECHR Issues Ruling on Courtroom Cages

The European Court for Human Rights has upheld the decision against Russia’s use of metal bar cages during the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, according to a report published by RAPSI.

In 2008, two Russian convicts filed an application in which they noted that during the trial they were placed in a cage made out of welded metal bars, installed in the local courthouse. The applicants also contested the ungrounded extension of their trials. In the application they sought to consider their rights under article 3 (prohibition of torture and degrading treatment) and part of article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the European convention violated.

The responding party (Russia) claimed that keeping the applicants secured in the courthouse what a routine safety measure, and was not devised to harm them in any way.

ECHR reviewed the application and in 2012 ruled that the applicants’ rights were violated and that the use of cages was “degrading,” granting them a 15,000 EUR compensation. The Russian authorities filed a motion to review the case within the Grand Chamber, which confirmed the ruling and granted the convicts a 10,000 EUR compensation each, with 6,000 EUR for litigation fees.

Posted in Case Updates |

Khodorkovsky Expresses Condolences to Victims of Moscow Metro Crash

In response to the tragic Metro crash in Moscow today which killed at least 20 people and injured more than 150, Mikhail Khodorkovsky issued the following statement:

My deep condolences to the families of the deceased and my wishes of the speediest possible recovery for those injured.

I am outraged  by the authorities’ attempt to scapegoat rank-and-file personnel for the tragedy.

Senior management must be held accountable for a situation that involves so many deaths.

At the very least, the head of the Moscow underground transit system (‘Metro’) should have resigned by now.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Posted in Other Developments |

Khodorkovsky: Give people a couple of wars, and they will be happy

The following translated coverage of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s speech at the University of Zurich was originally published on

Khodorkovsky: Give people a couple of wars, and they will be happy

On June 27, former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky spoke at the University of Zurich, where he presented a gloomy picture of the legal situation in Russia and Russian courts.

The main topic of Khodorkovsky’s speech was economic freedom and the role of courts in Russia.

He suggested that the principle formulated by the Spanish dictator Franco works in Russia: “For my friends – everything, for my enemies – the law.”

Khodorkovsky said that the Russian legal system is constantly adapting to the demands of the authorities, and new laws are adopted without prior consultation with experts and stakeholders.

“The judges, in fact, are government officials, who carry out the will of the people from Putin’s circle” – Khodorkovsky said.

“Give bread and circuses to people, or a couple of wars on the outskirts of the country – and they will be happy” – the former head of Yukos said about the support that the Russian government enjoys from in the country’s population.

Interestingly, earlier Khodorkovsky commented that he dreams that Ukraine and Russia could one day be united, but within Europe.

According to the Russian opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the greatest political mistake of the new Ukrainian authorities was that they failed to go to the eastern regions to explain why European integration matters.

“We, Ukrainians and Russians, have a similar mentality – if we do not know something, we think about the worst possible option. Therefore, it is necessary to talk to people,” Mikhail Khodorkovsky said.

Khodorkovsky believes that there is no alternative to the European development in a democratic Ukraine, and there is none in Russia.

“My dream is to unite Ukraine and Russia in the framework of the European family,” – the former head of Yukos said.

Earlier it was reported that the former head of Yukos warned EU against sanctions against Russia.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky believes that it makes no sense for the EU to impose additional sanctions against Russia.

According to him, EU sanctions against Russia will only benefit nationalists, who want to isolate Russia from the West.

He noted that Europe needs to focus not on sanctions against Moscow, but on assistance to democratic development in Ukraine.

In late April 2014, Khodorkovsky made ​​a number of statements related to the political crisis in Ukraine’s regions and the response of the world community.

Posted in Other Developments |

‘Culture Dialog’ Website Launched as Forum for Direct Engagement between Russia’s and Ukraine’s Civil Society

A Russian-Ukrainian crisis broke out in March 2014, resulted in an open armed confrontation, has claimed hundreds of lives and has brought Ukraine’s south-east to the brink of human catastrophe.

Against this dramatic background, another consequence of the crisis has caught little attention and has yet to be fully comprehended – a breakdown of civil, cultural, academic relationships between the two countries. Russia’s and Ukraine’s society has been taken hostage by a conflict orchestrated by the authorities; under threat is the long-standing cooperation between research institutions, religious organizations, universities, human rights activities, artists, environmentalists.

The ‘Russia-Ukraine: Dialog‘ Congress that convened in Kyiv on April 24-25 at the initiative of the Russian PEN-Center and the movements ‘The 3rd Ukrainian Republic’ and ‘Open Russia’ demonstrated the dire need, under the circumstances, for a forum for direct professional and personal interactions between civil society activists, academics, and intellectuals from both countries (read the closing documents from the event here).

The ‘Culture Dialog’ portal ( offers panel discussions where one can view the more eloquent addresses by the participants. But, above all, the website has been launched in order to maintain the dialog that started last April. Registered users of the forum are welcome to join the dialog.

Posted in Other Developments |

Birthday Wishes to Khodorkovsky from Across the World

On June 26, 2014, Mikhail Khodorkovsky celebrated his 51st birthday – the first to be celebrated among family and friends in more than ten years following his release this past winter.

Hundreds of well wishers from across the world sent in their birthday wishes – a few of which are shared below (initials are used to protect the privacy of supporters).

Over many years now I’ve watched the character of your person withstand experiences that could have proven to have been demoralizing to the strongest of human beings. Yet, you had been, and remain to this day being, unwavering and unrelenting in your views and hopes.” – B., USA

I have been praying for you every single day during those hard and long years and so I am so happy with you and your loved ones since that fabulous December 20th 2013.” – CB, Germany

I couldn’t have dreamed you would be finally released and it truly is remarkable. In our lifetime, we have seen many terrible things in the former Soviet Union but many great things that give us hope, and your release is one of them.” – C.A.F., New York, NY, USA

You have all my respect and admiration! I believe your ideals Will help Russia to find its Russian identity so that each person himself feel responsible for Russia, and do not try to project force and responsibility to a strong authorian leader.” – K.G., Denmark

Happy Birthday Mikhail – I hope the future holds lots of good things for you.” E.F., Japan

We send our warmest wishes to you, Mikhail Borisovich, to whom we feel indebted as old friends. Your fight for justice in Russia will not be forgotten, and we will continue to stand and support you in your coming years to continue the fight for human rights.” J.P, Poland

Let me use this oportunity and wish You best of all – luck and health, prosperity, peace and freedom. I am so happy for You Mr. Mikhail!” – D.L., Israel

Поздравляем! Счастья, здоровья, удачи!” – M.P., Moscow

Happy Birthday, Mikhail, Many Happy Returns and blessings on you all.” – G.S., London

Posted in Other Developments |

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