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Interview: Lebedev Feels Shame for Judges

Platon Lebedev was recently sentenced to nine years in a labor camp, along with his business partner and former Russian oil magnate, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Read DW-WORLD's exclusive interview with him.

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Lebedev (right) and Khordokovsky (left) during the trial

DW-WORLD: What do you think about the trial and the verdict passed by the Moscow municipal court?

Platon Lebedev: I already said what I though about the trial, after the verdict was passed. I said that that was a crime and that the judges had lost their honor.

Are you talking about the guilty verdict and its argumentation?

As far as the argumentation of the verdict is concerned, I have spoken on more than one occasion, and my assessment and position never changed. On April 16, 2004, I spoke about the charges pressed against me at the very beginning of the process. I pointed more than once to the crimes committed by officials involved in falsifying charges against me.

I don't think one should use the word "arguments" to describe the conclusions reached in the verdict because they were both mendacious and unintelligent, to such a degree, that I found myself having to laugh during the proceedings. And I was not the only one. This is a fact: When the court itself is laughing about its arguments, what more could one say?

A good example for the "arguments" of the government is the fact that Mr. Putin, after I was arrested, announced in the States that I was in "excellent health," referring to the words of state prosecutor Ustinov. Doctors in the Lefortovo prison also confirmed that my health condition was fine, even though I was arrested while in hospital, and, finally, the court itself stated in the verdict that I suffered from chronic hepatitis.

What do you think about the sentence?

I see the sentence as an assessment of the degree to which I am considered to be a danger and a threat to the interests of degraded and corrupt bureaucrats.

…and the position and conduct of the judges?

I feel shame for the judges and their conduct. They have no right to be judges, let alone be addressed with "your honor."

What, in your mind, is the main reason for initiating the "Yukos affair"?

Fear and envy.

What do you think about the conditions in the prison? How are you treated by the prison personnel? Are you allowed to see your relatives?

No comment. You will learn everything from the European Human Rights Court.

How do you occupy yourself in prison?

I'm protecting myself, trying to protect others, and trying to live somehow.

Do you ever wish you were somewhere far away from Russia ?

Never. A criminal government is one thing, the country is another.

What's your assessment of the current political situation in Russia ?

It's unpredictable and possibly explosive.

Can you read Russian and foreign press?

I could in the past, now I can't.

How do you assess the journalists covering your process?

Variously.

Do you think that there is hope for a positive outcome in the case against you and Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

On my part, I will do everything possible and even try to do the impossible for a positive outcome, not just for Mikhail's and my sake, but also for our country's sake. As philosophers like to put it: there is always hope, and hope dies last.

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