European Parliament: Khodorkovsky’s Case “Illustrative Of A Serious And Sustained Decline In The Rule Of Law In Russia”

October 10, 2013

Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s decade of injustice was raised today in the European Parliament during a debate that delivered a stinging rebuke to Russia for the accelerating decline of the rule of law in the country.

The debate was called amid growing concern about restrictive laws targeting freedom of expression, sexual identity and civil society organisations in Russia.

As Khodorkovsky prepares to mark his tenth anniversary behind bars, MEPs from all political groups gathered in Strasbourg to draw attention to the alarming rise in repressive measures against human rights defenders, political protesters.

An upsurge in violence against LGBTI individuals and foreigners in Russia was also roundly condemned.

Charles Tannock, a UK Conservative representing London, highlighted Khodorkovsky’s jailing as the start of Russia’s downward spiral towards authoritarianism, saying:

Ten years ago Mikhail Khodorkovsky was imprisoned. He’s been in jail ever since, a victim of selective justice. 

His case – and that’s why I raised it – was illustrative of a serious and sustained decline in the rule of law in Russia, whose government has effectively created an enemy of all those who wish to live their lives in peace, without harming anyone.”

Marije Cornelissen, a Dutch Green, told the Parliament:

It is time that we stopped treating the Russian authorities as friends, because they are not – they are not our friends, they are not the friends of civil rights, they are not the friends of the Russian people even. They are only the friends of their own power.

Let’s be clear, there can be no further trade liberalisation, no further visa liberalisation, without more respect for civil rights.”

Eduard Kukan, a Slovak centre-right MEP and former foreign minister, said:

Russia is intensively targeting its civil society, spreading fear and making the work of certain NGOs impossible.

The justice system then becomes a tool of political power. It creates a society in which certain groups are vulnerable and treated as second-class citizens.”

Leonidas Donskis, a Lithuanian MEP and distinguished political scientist, drew attention to the paradox that Russia had, throughout its history, sought to stigmatise “the best of Russia”.

Now we see the ghost of the Soviet Union, when they try to stigmatise NGOs or LGBTI people.

We have the supreme award of the European Parliament for freedom of expression named after Andrei Sakharov, one of the greatest Russians of the twentieth century.

All of a sudden we have to remind Russia of its great role and try to shame it for stigmatising the best of Russia. This is a great paradox, and we should not be silent.”