Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004

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I am sure the fans of billionaire financier Khodorkovsky knew what they were doing when they hired Sabine. She appears to have been on a retainer to them for some time.

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China Daily

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Russia's richest man to be tried

Right: Supporters of Russia's richest man and oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky protest outside the courthouse in Moscow. [AFP]

A TOP European representative arrived in Moscow to act as an impartial observer of this week's trial of Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who founded the country's top oil producer Yukos.
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David Irving comments:

I ONCE went on a tour of Germany with film star Michael Crawford; we were promoting a film called Oh, what a Wonderful War, in which he starred.
   We started on a stage in Munich, and ended in a sleazy club in Hamburg's red-light Reeperbahn; on the way around the country, I took Michael through Checkpoint Charlie to have a look at the "socialist achievements" of East Berlin.
   I mention this apparently irrelevant fact, because the tour opened my eyes to the wealth of the public relations industry. I was surprised at Hamburg airport when our plane was surrounded by hordes of screaming teenagers carrying pictures of Michael (and none of myself). Money can buy anything.
   They were there again, outside the courthouse in London in April 2000, reaady to jeer and throw things. And here they are again, the screaming Rentamob of fans and enthusiasts, this time protesting Khodorkovsky's innocence with all the vehemence and integrity of the expert witnesses hired by Deborah Lipstadt's friends -- who probably come from the same, ahem, corner as these protestors.
   They cannot possibly know anything of the complexities of the billionaire's case, and whether or not he was right to swindle the heirs of the old Soviet Union out of billions of dollars in real money (not the near- worthless rubles that they paid me when I discovered they had been printing millions of copies of my books in the 1970s.) But there they are, protesting.
   Yes, it is a rum old world, and we are privileged to be living through it.

WHEN I was a steelworker in 1960, I was required to pass within two months, two new examinations at "A" level to qualify for entry to University College, London: Economics, and British Constitution; starting from scratch, it seemed an impossible task, but I had the textbooks sent to the dormitory at the Thyssen Works, and I read them up and added in some of my own commonsense and I eventually passed with distinction, which might be taken to show what a low standard was then required.
   In the latter exam, a question asked about the merits of the British constitution, and I said that the absence of a British Ministry of Justice was the greatest, as it was the mark of the dictatorship: it bound the judiciary to the state in a wholly unhealthy way.
   Just think of every such minister produced by the Nazi and Communist regimes.

WHICH brings me to the "European representative" whose moniker is touted in this article, the ineffably named German ex minister of justice Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger. Jeez, if I had a name like hers I would change it several times, just in case somebody asked me what it was before.
   Her name rings a bell in my memory, and with a name like that it has to be a pretty hefty bronze thing, big enough to put the cracked one in Philadelphia to shame.
   And I know what the clapper was: As "federal minister of justice" in the early 1990s in "the most freedom loving and democratic Germany there has ever been" as they used to call themselves, she was the minister who required the instant resignation on "sick leave" of the three judges at state (Land) level who perversely found that my friend Günter Deckert was innocent of the charges leveled against him under Germany's laws for the suppression of free speech.
   One of these three Landesrichter, Orlet, recklessly described Deckert as a fine example of an upstanding German citizen, a former schoolteacher who had only the interests of his own nation at heart (that was a nasty dig at Bonn).
   As said, on Sabine L-S's orders all three judges were forcibly retired, and Deckert eventually served seven years in a German jail for having chaired a 1990 lecture in Weinheim at which I spoke. In the words of a later, more subservient, judge, Deckert "ought to have known that Mr Irving might speak certain words, even if he did not actually do so."
   Yes, I am sure the PR people and fans of of billionaire financier Michael Khodorkovsky knew what they were doing when they hired Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger. She appears to have been on a retainer to them for some time.

But she was immediately barred access from Mikhail Khodorkovsky amid cries of outrage from the defense team for Russia's richest man and President Vladimir Putin political opponent.


Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger, a former German justice minister, above, said she had not yet been granted permission to meet Khodorkovsky or to attend the trial as her mission -- which has large diplomatic significance -- looked in peril. Khodorkovsky was arrested by masked security men on October 25 in his private jet while traveling in Siberia after allegedly ignoring a summons from prosecutors.

He has been charged with massive fraud and tax evasion but some Western governments view the case as a political trial and an attempt by Kremlin hawks to win control over the lucrative oil industry. "I want to meet the defendants," Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger said on arrival in remarks broadcast on NTV television, adding that she planned to meet justice and general prosecutor's office officials on Tuesday. "I need to see the situation in the detention facilities," she added.

However the Interfax new agency cited a court representative as saying that Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger would not be allowed to meet Khodorkovsky because that would break Russian law. He gave no other details. A spokesman for Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger said he was aware of the report and had no official confirmation of it from Russian authorities. "We have not had either a yes or a no. We expect to be officially told tomorrow," Gunter Schirmer said by telephone.

Khodorkovsky's lawyer also said the chances of Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger meeting her client looked slim. "I am sorry that things are turning out the way they are," Karina Moskalenko told Moscow Echo radio. "She should have been allowed to see him ... as an independent observer."

Khodorkovsky's supporters say the oil tycoon was targeted for prosecution because he financed parties opposed to Putin ahead of the December parliamentary and March presidential elections. He was estimated to be worth 15.2 billion dollars by Forbes magazine this year.

Khodorkovsky, who made his billions in the economic mayhem of the first years of post-Soviet rule, had begun to openly challenge the Kremlin. Among other things, he fought the Kremlin over its plans to raise taxes on Russia's oil companies, plans which the Russian authorities now intend to pursue.

KhodorskyNow awaiting trial in the Matrosskaya Tishina jail in Moscow, Khodorkovsky will be tried on seven counts of fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement, facing up to 10 years in jail if convicted. Preliminary hearings are set to open on Friday in one of the most closely-observed hearings to be staged in post- Soviet Russia.

Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger was appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on March 15 to monitor Khodorkovsky's case. She has been instructed to make five fact-finding missions to Moscow and meet Khodorkovsky and other Yukos officials who are also on trial, including its number two shareholder Platon Lebedev.

Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger had planned to visit Moscow earlier, as the Yukos scandal unfolded, but Russian authorities postponed that trip "with two days' notice", according to a statement from APEC, a consultancy firm employed by Yukos. Western-based attorneys for Khodorkovsky have also been denied entry visas by Russian authorities at the last minute, and access to the court hearings.




 ... on the, ahem, oligarchs
Forbes list of Russian billionaires features nine Jewish tycoons : fears that this may reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes
How the 'Golden Horde' hoarded its way to top of Russia's rich list
Police raid Sörös office as oil billionaire is refused bail
Arrested oil tycoon passed shares to banker
Greek court rejects Gusinsky extradition
Russian fraudster Boris Berezovsky granted asylum by Tony Blair's government
Reuters reports that The World Jewish Congress asked Interpol not to arrest Jewish Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky
Apr 25, 2001: Russian media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky has flown from Spain to Israel, apparently in a new bid to escape the clutches of Moscow prosecutors
Forward: Kremlin Targets Jewish Tycoons in War on Critics
First Russian International Corporate Philanthropic Foundation (of Khodorkovsky and Rothschild): "I am launching the Foundation [First Russian International Corporate Philanthropic Foundation] in London to highlight the international nature of the Foundation's aims and to create an infrastructure from which the next generation of Russia's leaders will emerge."


Right: Günter Deckert
Index to Deckert case
According to the Federal justice minister Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger the Bundesgerichtshof found that the state court did not give sufficient attention to the facts surrounding the Deckert case.
What the judges said about Deckert (before the German minister of justice ordered their public reprimand)
The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
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