European Parliament: Khodorkovsky And Other Russian Political Prisoners Should Be Released

December 11, 2013

Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s politically-motivated imprisonment was condemned by the European Parliament today as MEPs passed a major resolution on the state of human rights in the world.

The resolution, authored by Slovak MEP and former foreign minister Eduard Kukan, also highlighted the ongoing impunity over the torture and death of former Yukos executive vice-president Vasily Alexanian and called for those responsible to be brought to justice by the Russian authorities.

The annual resolution on human rights across the globe singled out the Russian government for criticism.

The text approved today in Strasbourg called for “the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other political prisoners” and stated that the European Parliament “deplores the political use of justice” in Russia.

Alexanian’s death was listed alongside the killings of human rights campaigner Natalia Estemirova and journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

MEPs also expressed serious concern about the increasingly repressive laws being enacted to limit the activities and funding of civil society organisations, which have led to “the harassment of NGOs, civil society activists, human rights defenders, minorities and LGBTI persons“.

In a debate on the resolution which preceded today’s vote, MEPs welcomed the resolution’s focus on the human rights situation in Russia and drew attention to the decade of injustice suffered by Khodorkovsky.

Lithuanian MEP Laima Liucija Andrikienė, who attended Khodorkovsky’s second trial, drew attention to her amendment to the resolution, which highlighted Khosorkovsky’s imprisonment.

This Christmas will be his last behind bars, after ten years of injustice, political persecution and imprisonment. We eagerly await his release next August.

Russia badly needs a change of direction. It needs people of the character and calibre of Mikhail Khodorkovsky to take the country forward.”

Refering to the torture of Vasily Alexanian, Dr Andrikienė said: “His case is a stark reminder that some people in Russia pay for their principles not only with their freedom, but with their lives.”

Charles Tannock MEP, a British Conservative, drew attention to the “perennial human rights problems…particularly [in] Russia with…Khodorkovsky’s prolonged incarceration.”

Watch Dr Andrikienė’s speech below: