[JURIST] Former Yukos [corporate website] CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST Hot Topic archive; BBC profile] will testify Friday [Interfax report] in his fraud and tax evasion trial. According to the latest trial update [text] from Khodorkovsky's defense website, the judge presiding over the trial has granted a recess until Friday morning to allow Khodorkovsky and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev more time to prepare for their testimony. In a related development, several prominent Russian writers, actors and academicians have written a letter [text] calling on the international community to recognize Khodorkovsky as a political prisoner. Khodorkovsky's trial has been widely criticized as retribution for the oil tycoon's political ambitions and open criticism of President Vladimir Putin. The group writes:
It is clear to us that, regardless of Mikhail Khodorkovsky?s political views, financial condition, or the crimes that he is charged with by the Prosecutor General?s office, this person has the same right to a defense as all the citizens of those countries that are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights. In the case of Khodorkovsky, this right has not been observed so far.AFP has more.
Based on our observations of the trial proceedings, we have come to the conclusion that there is a political element in the prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. We appeal to the international human rights community to recognize the obvious fact: Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a political prisoner.