Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, December 22

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Russian Press - Behind the Headlines - Sputnik International
Supreme Court spells out new regulations on terrorist crimes \ Moscow opposition groups join forces for municipal elections \ Cambodia’s king pardons Russian pedophile

Supreme Court spells out new regulations on terrorist crimes

A plenary meeting of the Supreme Court has drafted a resolution on Certain Aspects of Judicial Practice in Criminal Cases Involving Terrorism. The judges plan to compile a list of crimes that can be qualified as terrorism and also to explain some aspects of financing terrorist organizations.
Judge Vladimir Davydov speaking at the meeting said that courts hearing terrorism cases occasionally run into difficulties: the laws do not give an exhaustive list of offenses that can be described as terrorism. Therefore the meeting suggested that detonating explosive devices, arson and other acts likely to endanger human lives be viewed as terrorism only if they seek certain decisions from the authorities or international bodies. The resolution says that encroachments on human life “motivated by revenge or personal hostility” do not constitute a terrorist crime.

At the meeting judges intend to interpret financing terrorism not only as the transfer of money, but also as providing material help. A person doing the financing should realize that the property being handed over is meant for a terrorist organization or to prepare at least one crime of a terrorist nature. It does not matter if the funds are provided for a specific act or a terrorist organization (to buy property or pay rent). Any support to terrorist activity (recruitment, persuasion or involvement) should be considered a crime if the person involved tried to commit at least one terrorist act.

Public justification of terrorism, the meeting decided, shall mean a public statement recognizing the ideology and practice of terrorism as right and in need of support and emulation. At the same time, the Supreme Court proposed drawing a line between such statements and “a public expression of one’s convictions without pursuing the purpose of propaganda or agitation, such as are voiced during theoretical or political discussions.”

The meeting also plans to explain the rules by which an accomplice cooperating with the investigation is not subject to persecution. Such rules can be interpreted in two ways, Davydov believes: Currently the decision does not depend on whether or not the terrorist attack was prevented. The new resolution recommends courts to relieve from responsibility only those accomplices whose cooperation helped to avoid a crime.

The plenary meeting participants also intend to clarify that taking part in an illegal armed formation means supporting its operations as well, for example providing makeshift housing, erecting fences, cooking food or doing other chores at the place of an illegal armed formation.

Moskovskiye Novosti

Moscow opposition groups join forces for municipal elections

Unregistered Moscow opposition movements and groups have formed a coalition to take part in the election to municipal legislatures next March. The founders of the Our City initiative promise to fight for each of their candidates. Experts point to the business community’s growing interest in these elections.

The opposition and independent candidates for Moscow’s municipal elections have formed an election coalition, Our City, to ensure “that the largest possible number of opposition and independent candidates are elected to municipal legislatures on March 4, 2012,” Mikhail Velmakin, a co-founder of the initiative and head of the School of Deputies project, told Moskovskiye Novosti.

About 50 people have joined the initiative, including members of the Protect Khimki Forest movement, the association of municipal deputies, the School of Deputies group and the interregional voters’ association Golos. They intend to monitor the election campaign to prevent violations, but their first task is to get their candidates registered for the elections. “We will do our best to make sure all our candidates are registered by mid-January and subsequently elected to municipal assemblies,” Velmakin said. The association will offer these candidates legal support throughout the election campaign.

Velmakin did not say how many seats they hope to win. “We will state our goal after registration,” he said, which may mean that the opposition coalition thinks that administrative resources may be used against its candidates. During the previous elections, nearly all candidates of A Just Russia were forced to withdraw in the middle of the race, as a result of which only two candidates won seats.

There are 125 municipal districts in Moscow whose governments are responsible for a number of issues, such as sports and physical fitness and custody and guardianship. The role of municipal elections has been growing even though municipal deputies have limited powers, said Yury Zagrebnoy, editor-in-chief of the independent news agency Mossovet. “Moscow businesses are showing increased interest in local elections not so much because they want to represent the interests of their district residents as to secure the local government’s assistance for their initiatives,” Zagrebnoy said. Observers note that municipal elections are a better venue than protest rallies for the disgruntled city residents to express their attitude to United Russia.

The ruling party does not fear the new coalition. “The opposition movements can form any coalition they want but unless they learn to fill in registration documents correctly, the upcoming election results will be the same as last time. This is the law, and the law is the same for everyone,” said Svetlana Venikova, the official representative of United Russia’s Moscow branch. Not a single independent candidate has been denied registration without a reason this year, she said.

Cambodia’s king pardons Russian pedophile

The King of Cambodia pardoned pedophile Alexander Trofimov, jailed for molesting 17 Cambodian girls aged between six and thirteen. Prison chiefs appealed for a royal pardon on the grounds that the businessman convicted in 2008 “was a reformed individual.”

Alexander Trofimov, sentenced to 17 years behind bars for child sex crimes in Cambodia, reportedly walked free on Tuesday.
The pedophile was granted amnesty by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Before his conviction, Trofimov chaired Koh Pous, a large investment company based in Cambodia and was developing a $300-million “mega resort” near Sihanoukville.

He was arrested during the search for another offender, Canadian pedophile Christopher Neil. Unlike Trofimov, Neil was paying to have sex with young boys. Photos of Neil having sex with children leaked online in 2004, but his face was blurred and it took three years for the police to identify the criminal. In the course of their investigation, the authorities discovered another serial pedophile operating in the country. In October 2007, Trofimov was arrested.

Originally Trofimov was charged with abusing six children but later 13 more victims brought charges. The court found him guilty on 17 counts.
Trofimov’s defense claimed he was a public figure and could not be accused simply because a young girl pointed her finger at him.

In August 2010, the court slashed Trofimov’s term to eight years after he apologized to his victims and the people of Cambodia, and admitted his lack of understanding of local laws. He was quoted by the local media as saying: “In admitting my guilt, I want to beg forgiveness of the people of Cambodia and the families of my victims, and ask the court to give me a minimum penalty.”

The victims and their attorneys were livid. Lawyers described the Russian pedophile as “a dangerous man who must not be released” as “he doesn’t just invest money in resorts, he also uses his money to pay for sex with children.”

In 2011, in a stroke of luck, Trofimov was one of the 360 prisoners to receive the king’s pardon. According to the Sihanoukville prison chief, prison officials appealed for Trofimov to be amnestied because “he had reformed in his time behind bars.”

Whether Trofimov will stay in Cambodia or return to Russia is still unknown.

Russian diplomats in Cambodia have not commented on the issue.

Earlier, Russia requested the extradition of Stanislav Molodyakov (aka Alexander Trofimov) in connection with child abuse allegations in his home country but the Cambodian government rejected the request.

Trofimov’s case has been the highest profile case in Cambodian history as it involved the largest number of underage victims molested by one person. The country is riddled with poverty and police corruption, and has long been known as “pedophile heaven.” Several years ago, the government of Cambodia decided to fight for a better image of the country and started a campaign against the child sex industry.

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