Jailed former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky said on Wednesday a European court ruling that found his case was not politically motivated was a concession to the Russian authorities.
Khodorkovsky, once seen as a potential threat to then president Vladimir Putin, has been in jail on charges of fraud and tax evasion since 2003. His eight-year jail term has since been extended by another five years and he is currently due for release in 2016.
“I understand the European court’s motives, which ruled that political motives behind my detention and arrest, though obvious and publicly admitted even by Russian state officials, were nevertheless not proven [in court],” Khodorkovsky said in an interview with Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.
He added that political motives behind Yukos bankruptcy were also obvious.
The jailed former billionaire said the European Court of Human Rights tries to cooperate with the Russian authorities on the issue, fearing that otherwise it will lose the ability to enforce its rulings in Russia.
“With this in mind, the court makes forced concessions to the Russian authorities. Unfortunately, such concessions seriously damage the court’s reputation among politically active Russians oriented towards the European way of development,” Khodorkovsky said.
In a press release issued on December 14, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights said it had rejected to reexamine the court’s May 31 judgment, which said “incontestable proof” to back allegations of political motivation behind Khodorkovsky’s prosecution “had not been presented.”
However, the Strasbourg judges then ruled that Russia violated Khodorkovsky’s rights during his detention and arrest in 2003.