''And the presidentís opinion is no longer of any significance to them either, because having begun their campaign of hounding YUKOS, those people have found themselves in the situation where they are forced to save their hides. And that is why theyíre unlikely to stop at anything,'' the well-known Russian lawyer and human rights activist Andrei Makarov told Gazeta.Ru, commenting on the events surrounding YUKOS.
Andrei Mikhailovich, for a person with your experience it must be clear that the campaign against YUKOS was unleashed on the stateís orders. What are the characteristic features of such cases?
I categorically disagree with the assertion that it is an order from the state. Let us not confuse the state with individual bureaucrats, however high-placed they are. The state, in itself, cannot order an assault on YUKOS. The state is you and me. And if certain individuals who have some power in the state do this, this does not mean that this is done by the state.
The fact that the prosecutorís office is not acting on its own initiative in this case, I think, does not need to be proved. Only the lazy have not spoken about that yet. The made-to-order nature of the material is also clear from the case that they have pulled out Ė the Apatit case. To all appearances, they have found nothing else.
What irritates me is that YUKOS has always worked for transparency, not just by Russian standards but also by western standards. And such an attack is being carried out against a transparent company.
The problem is that a message is being sent out on two sides: on the one hand, to those who would also like to become transparent, and on the other, to any foreign investor.
What we are observing is the ruin of the state, truly colossal losses for the state. That is why to talk of the state ''ordering'' the YUKOS case, while the president speaks of doubling the countryís GDP, is not correct.
I have to admit though that what we see now is quite the opposite. Those are orders from quite concrete officials who want to play their role in politics and are pursuing their political goals by the means of law-enforcement. And that the prosecutorís office in Russia, since the very moment it was established by Leninís order, has always played the what-can-I-do-for-you role is no great discovery.
We now have a repetition of 1996, in the most literal sense. This is a revolt by the law enforcers in the run-up to the presidential elections. Only today, unlike in 1996, society has not yet consolidated to oppose them.
Has YUKOSí transparency made the task more difficult for the Prosecutor Generalís Office, or, on the contrary, easier?
This is another problem. Look at the charges being brought against YUKOS. That is, I say against YUKOS, but, in truth, against concrete individuals. I will not be surprised if tomorrow YUKOS executives are charged with a whole range of criminal offences, from dodging alimony payments to the slaughter of innocent Christians.
Of course, the slaughter of the innocents, in my opinion, would be the priority charge, since itís an offence against humanity and is not subject to statutes of limitation, unlike the alleged embezzlement of the stake in Apatit. In this context we cannot say what will happen next.
It is obvious that they have told the president: ''YUKOSís has walked over corpses, Khodorkovsky had scores of people killed and tortured to death in his past, Lebedev stole the whole deposit of these apatitesÖ''
Try to understand, the president cannot but trust people whom he himself has appointed to head his power-wielding bloc. In other words, they have told him that there is undisputable evidence and everything is obvious. And so it began. Yet, despite all that, we hear the premier say, even if there are some grounds, why arrest a person on such charges? Has there been any response to that statement [by Kasyanov]? None whatsoever. In this case, neither the presidentís nor the governmentís opinion is of any significance to those people, simply because today they have to save their hides.
Now they have to prove to the president that all they have just reported is true. For them it is a question of self-preservation. And then any means are possible, be it fabrication of evidence and accusations of any kind.
Take, for instance, the latest search conducted on Friday. The president is meeting with the leaders of the [State Duma] factions and public figures, while at the same time the YUKOS offices are being searched.
Incidentally, during searches that are carried out for nearly 24 hours and overnight, evidence later used as proof of guilt is usually being planted.
At the same time the country loses billions each day, but [law enforcers] do not give a damn, because for them it is a question of self-preservation. If tomorrow it transpires that all of those charges are absurd, and were brought solely for narrow political purposes, the president will respond. But those who have arranged it all will not want to part with power.
How necessary was Platon Lebedevís arrest for the investigation from a practical standpoint?
This is a purely political action. One has to understand one simple thing. Russia is a party to all international conventions on the matter. And in all countries of the world arrest is an extreme measure. In other words, arrest is applied only when it is necessary. Lebedevís arrest was not necessary. And everyone understands perfectly well, that the case has no legal prospects. A guilty verdict is impossible except in a Russian court, where the authorities can pressure the judge just like any other citizen. This [Lebedevís arrest] is a political action. It is just that the power-wielding structures are coming up to the surface.
How thoroughly was the operation against YUKOS planned, and how, in your opinion, will the situation develop?
I do not think much of the people who plan these operations. From my standpoint, they pursue absolutely momentary goals not thinking of what will befall them tomorrow, or about what will happen to the country. As for the country, they have never cared about it anyway, but they should at least think about what happens tomorrow.
Hence, to speak of some planning is difficult, since today they have only one plan, to put on the presidentís table, at-any-cost, evidence of the lawfulness of their actions.
Doing that without falsifying evidence, from my standpoint, is impossible. There is even murder on the list of alleged offences, which means that tomorrow some Vasya, convicted of murder, confesses to the murder of some Pupkin solely because Khodorkovsky had called him and said: ''If you kill Pupkin, I will give you an isle in the Caribbean.''
Goebbels said that a lie, for people to believe it, must be the biggest lie. Only such a lie will be believed. And has anything changed? The principles are the same.
Could the attack on YUKOS be a part of the struggle for access to mineral resources?
I do not think it is a case of mineral resources. The president says he is against revising the results of privatization. The premier says the same. We all understand that revising the results of privatization means the ruin of the country. Do the people who started all this not know the presidentís position?
In this case one needs to understand that all this is being done to suit their own ends, and to their own ends they would very much like to see Khodorkovsky stay in America [where he flew at the end of last week to take part in a business conference in Sun Valley Ė Gazeta.Ru], afraid to return.
Do not get me wrong, I am not Khodorkovskyís defence attorney, nor YUKOSí lawyer. I can only judge as a person who has been practicing law for 30 years.
The point is that those people seek to intimidate the public; they want us to be afraid. And there are results. People have become wary of talking aloud. Everything has returned in a flash. And that is why the first goal pursued by those people has been achieved. Against the background of fear one can move on. That is why for me personally the situation is not a question of YUKOS. I agree with Khodorkovsky, who in one of his recent interviews said: ''If it takes a general-colonel to arrest a tycoon, a lieutenant or maybe even a sergeant will do for a common citizen.'' And thatís the problem.