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Medvedev: Wrong to consider outcome of second Yukos trial predictable

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev believes it would be wrong to predict the outcome of any trial, including the second trial involving the former oil company Yukos and its top managers.

"The foretelling of a court ruling and a court sentence would be an unlawful thing for a president. This would signal a violation of the law. As regards any free commentators, this is their personal matter. As for government officials and the president, there cannot and must not be any predictions in any legal proceedings, including the one you have mentioned," Medvedev said in an interview published in the Wednesday issue of Novaya Gazeta when asked by its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, whether he views as predictable the outcome of the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.

"The outcome of this or that case might seem predictable to someone. This is such a freedom and pleasure for a person not invested with responsibilities as a statesman but who is, for instance, a free analyst to say: I think it will be so and so. And then say: Look, it happened exactly this way. Or: Pardon, I was wrong. But there is not and cannot be such freedom of comment for a government official, not to mention a president," Medvedev said.

He also said he was not a supporter of "manual control" methods in governing the state.

Muratov told Medvedev about a letter the newspaper received, which suggests the following, "Maybe Medvedev could simply make telephone calls to judges at the moment, specifically the judge handling the Yukos case, to tell them: your are independent, you are independent, I want to remind you that you are independent."

Medvedev replied to this, "I could tell you that any manual control has very significant side effects. I am not even talking about the judicial system. It is just necessary to try to make sure that the governance machinery works automatically to a reasonable extent."