[JURIST] Imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] linked the fate of Russia with the outcome of his trial in his closing statements [text, PDF] on Tuesday in his trial for money laundering and embezzlement [JURIST report]. Prosecutors allege that Khodorkovsky and a group of investors embezzled more than $100 million from his former company Yukos [JURIST news archive]. Addressing the court, Khodorkovsky said:
Your Honour! There is much more than just the fates of two people in your hands. Right here and right now, the fate of every citizen of our country is being decided. Those who, on the streets of Moscow and Chita, Peter and Tomsk, and other cities and settlements, are not counting on becoming victims of police lawlessness, who have set up a business, built a house, achieved success and want to pass it on to their children, not to raiders in uniform, and finally, – those who want to honorably carry out their duty for a fair wage, not expecting that they can be fired at any moment by corrupt bosses under just about any pretext. … Everybody understands that your verdict in this case – whatever it will be – is going to become part of the history of Russia.
A verdict on this case is anticipated on December 15 [RFERL report]. If convicted, Khodorkovsky could be imprisoned until 2017. Also Tuesday, Khodorkovsky’s defense lawyers hinted that prosecutors are contemplating filing a third set of criminal charges [RIA Novosti report] against their client and his business partner Platon Lebedev [JURIST news archive].
In May, former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] testified that former president Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive] ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Khodorkovsky for political reasons. Also in May, Khodorkovsky ended a two-day hunger strike [JURIST report] after a spokesperson for Medvedev indicated that Medvedev was familiar with a complaint Khodorkovsky made regarding the three-month extension of his detention. Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence since 2005 for fraud and tax evasion [JURIST report], charges he continues to deny.