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Natalya Vasilyeva speaking to journalists from
Natalya Vasilyeva speaking to journalists from
The saga of courtroom whistleblower Natalya Vasilyeva continues.

As I blogged earlier in the week, Vasilyeva, an aide to Viktor Danilkin, the presiding judge in Mikhail Khodorkovsky's recent trial, told "" that the verdict and harsh sentence in that case resulted from pressure from high officials.

Vasilyeva said Danilkin was summoned to the Moscow City Court on December 25, just days before he was to rule on Khodorkovsky's fate, and met an "important person who had to give him clear instructions about the verdict."

On December 30, Danilkin ruled that Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev must remain in prison until 2017.

Danilkin has rejected Vasilyeva's allegations, calling her interview "a provocation." He has since said, however, that he does not intend to file criminal slander charges - or even civil libel charges -- against her.

For her part, Vasilyeva has said that she "did not intend to accuse Danilkin of criminal behavior" in rendering the guilty verdict against Khodorkovsky. "I just wanted to clear my conscience, and to an extent, his," she said.

Meanwhile, a group of human rights activists on Tuesday sent a letter to Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika calling for a criminal investigation into Vasilyeva's claims.

"Natalya Vasileva revealed information relating to several crimes, including putting pressure on a judge and violating confidentiality," Lev Ponomarev, director of the group "For Human Rights" and one of the signatories of the letter, told RFE/RL's Russian Service.

"We appeal to the Russian Prosecutor-General of Russia to look into this matter. If the prosecutor can confirm these facts, then several criminal cases must be opened."

Russia's Association of Human Rights Organizations (AGORA), meanwhile, says it will assist Vasilyeva should she encounter any problems due to her revelations. Pavel Chikov, the head of AGORA, says the group will seek to "minimize any possible negative consequences resulting from Natalya Vasilyeva's revelations."

As I blogged earlier in the week, whistleblowers in Russia -- be they police officers, prosecutors, or socialites -- have regularly suffered "negative consequences" for their actions.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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