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Interview: Khodorkovsky's Mother Urges Medvedev To 'Realize He's President'

Marina Khodorkovskaya waves after a court session in Moscow in 2004.
Marina Khodorkovskaya waves after a court session in Moscow in 2004.
Five years ago, the prison sentence against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, came into force.

The two men are serving eight-year sentences for fraud and tax evasion. They are currently facing a second trial in Moscow on additional charges of embezzlement.

RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Maryana Torocheshnikova spoke to Khodorkovsky's mother, Marina Khodorkovskaya, today in Moscow.

RFE/RL: What is the difference between the current trial and the one that ended five years ago today?

Marina Khodorkovskaya:
The form of the current trial is somewhat closer to what it should be. That is, they listen to the lawyers and call witnesses. But the essence remains the same -- it is a show trial.

Who ordered it? [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin. [Deputy Prime Minister Igor] Sechin. I don't think there's even any point in talking about that. Everyone knows it.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky (left) and Platon Lebedev are escorted to court last month.
In my opinion, a self-sufficient, self-respecting person confirms that with big, useful deeds. A warped person, a petty person confirms that by ruining other people's lives with whatever power they have.

RFE/RL: Did the new charges come as a surprise to you?

I'm 76 years old and I've seen a lot in this life. Therefore, understanding who has power in this country (and I'm not counting [President Dmitry] Medvedev in this), I understood that they would do everything they could think of to prevent them [defendants Khodorkovsky and Lebedev] from being freed.

'Frightening Consequences'

RFE/RL: Have you noticed any changes in the attitudes of ordinary citizens to the case of your son?

Yes, of course, there have been changes. I think that now people who are more or less following the trial -- even those who oppose us -- have begun to understand that what is going on has nothing to do with the law.

The most frightening consequence of this trial, I think, is that young people who come up to me on the street are often saying, "If this trial ends badly, there will be an exodus out of here." That is very frightening.

RFE/RL: Do you feel that average people support you?

Of course. Even in little ways. At the airport, for instance, they let me go through without waiting in line. At the market, they offer me discounts. There's support even on that level.

RFE/RL: How soon do you think the second trial will end?

The lawyers say the case is drawing to a close. Within a week or so, closing arguments will begin and that is practically the last phase. I don't know how long that will last. But the case will only end when our new president realizes that he is the president.

RFE/RL: That is, you think that the court can't bring an end to this case without political will from above?

Undoubtedly. That is exactly right. The judge here is just a puppet. Although he is definitely not a stupid man, and he understands everything perfectly. But, unfortunately, he is not a free man.