Russia’s Investigative Committee [official website, in Russian] on Friday, charged [press release, in Russian] former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive] with multiple murders and attempted murders during the 1990s according to the Interfax agency. Khodorkovsky is accused of being the mastermind behind the killing of a local mayor, an executive officer and his bodyguards because their actions were in conflict with the interests of Khodorkovsky’s oil company Yukos [Foreign Policy report]. The committee found that Khodorkovsky, once called the richest man in Russia, instructed his subordinates to murder the victims who were causing financial difficulty for the company by exposing its illegal dealings. Khodokovsky, a known critic of Russian leader Vladmir Putin [official website], has refused to leave his exile in Switzerland to respond to the charges and issued [advocacy website] the following statement:
When I read this declaration from the General Prosecutor’s Office, I unwittingly began to feel sorry for Putin—nobody is able to tell him that: Repressive, illegitimate laws have to be sabotaged as much and as best as possible; The laws created by him and the practice of their application do not allow for his rule to be replaced in a lawful way; Such laws and such a practice are anti-constitutional, meaning that he has staged an anti-constitutional coup; It is precisely for this reason that he or his successor will be brought down outside the bounds of these laws—that is by way of revolution; In a modern country, no regime ought to be eternal, meaning that revolution is not only unavoidable; it is imperative. You consider the truth to be extremism? I feel sorry for you.
The Investigative Committee has promised to ensure that Khodorkovsky will face trial in Russia for his alleged participation in the various crimes.
Khodorkovsky has been an adamant critic of the Russian administration over the last few years, making claims abuses, which have been supported [JURIST report] by human rights organizations and other governments. In March EU officials decided [JURIST report] to stand by their policy of not recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Also that month Russian liberal political activist Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times in the middle of busy downtown Moscow. Nemtsov was openly politically opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its role in Ukraine, and many believe Putin ordered [JURIST report] the killing. In February US Secretary of State John Kerry announced [JURIST report] that Washington is considering “additional sanctions” against Russia in light of the most recent events in Ukraine.