Former Constitutional Court judge to be questioned in YUKOS case
MOSCOW, June 25 (RAPSI) - Tamara Morshchakova, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights and former Constitutional Court judge, told RAPSI that she has been summoned to the Investigative Committee in the YUKOS case.
Morshchakova was on the Council's expert group that analyzed and provided its conclusions in the YUKOS case.
The YUKOS case has been one of the most high-profile in Russia in recent years. In the early 2000s, the authorities accused the executives of YUKOS, then the country's largest oil company, of embezzlement and tax evasion. In 2005, the court sentenced Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his codefendant, former Menatep head Platon Lebedev, to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion.
Many in the West believe the case against YUKOS was politically driven, but Moscow has denied the charges.
In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into account the time they had already served for their convictions from their first trial in 2005. However, on May 24, 2011, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year. They now may be released in 2016.
The Human Rights Council working group analyzed the second YUKOS case and concluded in 2011 that the Criminal Code has no provisions to qualify Khodorkovsky and Lebedevs actions as a crime.
"Most experts agreed that the Criminal Code has no provisions to qualify the actions as a crime," Morshchakova said in December 2011.
Experts also believe that the presumption of innocence was violated while hearing the case and passing the sentence. Furthermore, the prosecution has not produced any reliable explanations as to why Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had been subject to multiple prosecution.
Human Rights Council head Mikhail Fedotov said there is nothing unusual in Morshchakova being summoned for questioning and expressed readiness to answer the investigators' questions, if necessary. He said he has nothing to hide.
Leading Russian economist Sergei Guriev was questioned in connection with the YUKOS case in late May. The New Economic School, where he served as rector, is being investigated for receiving funds from Khodorkovsky, according to a source.
Guriev, who has reportedly served as an economic advisor to the government, resigned from his position at the school and asked to be excluded from consideration for a seat on Sberbanks supervisory board. The Russian media have reported that this may have had to do with the Investigative Committee's scrutiny.
According to RIA Novosti, Guriev provided expertise for the Human Rights Council report on the legality of the second case brought against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.
His contribution to the report maintained Khodorkovsky's innocence and emphasized the claim that there was no conflict of interest related to the affiliates of YUKOS and Khodorkovsky.
Last year, Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin claimed that some of those that had evaluated the legality of the second case were affiliates who had taken YUKOS funds, according to RIA Novosti.