Hot Topic Program: The Dictatorship of Law: The Khodorkovsky Case, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law in Russia:
In 2000, President Vladimir Putin said Russia needed a “dictatorship of law.” In the shadow of the Russian presidential election scheduled for March 2012, this panel examines what measure of dictatorship and law Russia enjoys twenty years after the collapse of Soviet rule. Discussion will highlight developments in the most well-known case in the courts of both Russia and the Council of Europe.
In 2005, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the CEO of Russia’s most profitable private corporation, Yukos Oil, was convicted of fraud and tax evasion. Yukos was seized and sold to state-controlled companies. Last year, as potential release approached, Khodorkovsky was convicted again, on new charges arising out of the old evidence used for his first conviction. On the eve of that verdict, Putin (now Prime Minister) informed a nationwide television audience that “a thief should sit in jail.” Khodorkovsky’s new sentence, upheld on appeal, runs to 2016. In four separate judgments in the Khodorkovsky matter, the European Court of Human Rights has found procedures wanting.
Do Khodorkovsky’s trials reflect the state of justice in Russia or is it an unrepresentative political case? This panel examines the impact of Khodorkovsky’s case on reform of both private and public law in Russia.