Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Truth Will Out

The Russians are finally coming clean about the real motives behind the prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Those who imagined that this was really all about "cleaning up" corruption are likely to be disappointed.

A senior Russian government minister has told the BBC that political reasons have played a role in the prosecution of the country's wealthiest man.
Economy Minister German Gref said the case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky had "a certain political element".
The trial of the oil billionaire, who is charged with tax evasion and fraud, will restart on 12 July.
Mr Khodorkovsky had been funding political groups opposed to President Vladimir Putin.
The case has disturbed foreign investors worried about state interference in the legal process.
The BBC's Jonathan Charles in Moscow says the Russian government has now admitted what many of its critics have long been alleging.

'Easy target'

Mr Gref told the BBC that Mr Khodorkovsky's company Yukos had been involved in "political activities".
The minister indicated he saw this as disloyal to Mr Putin and that Mr Khodorkovsky had then made himself an easy target by allegedly trying to evade taxes and to commit fraud.
Reading between the lines, the message here seems to be that it would have been fine with Putin and company if Khodorkovsky'd stuck to dodging taxes and committing fraud, just as long as he had the good sense to keep his nose out of politics.