Global Voices Online
Sunday, February 3, 2008
On Jan. 30, Robert Amsterdam, legal defense counsel for jailed ex-head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, announced on his blog that his client had gone on a hunger strike in protest against the treatment of Vasily Alexanyan, another jailed Yukos executive, who is said to be dying of AIDS and lymphoma cancer, but is being denied life-saving treatment.
On Feb. 2, Amsterdam blogged on why most international NGOs and human rights groups remained silent about "the murder-in-progress of Vasily Alexanyan":
[...] Why on earth won't anybody say anything about this poor, unfortunate victim of Kremlin injustice? This is the question often put to me in recent emails and comments. Of course I have my theories which I shall outline below, but I certainly do share their outrage and disbelief.
Consider the facts: He's been unlawfully held in pre-trial detention for two years without conviction, denied urgent medical care to treat his condition (which the prosecutor illegally disclosed to the media as HIV), and he has been offered relief and medical care only in exchange for invented false testimony against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other Yukos prisoners. Not to mention that the Russian Federation has ignored three separate orders from the European Court of Human Rights regarding his medical care.
The man is on the brink of death, yet apart from a barely publicized Amnesty International note back on Jan. 18, almost no one in Europe or North America has said any thing in his defense. [...]
In the Russian blogosphere, however, a campaign has been launched by LJ user rikusha to name government and law enforcement officials who are believed to be "killing" Alexanyan, in one way or another. The blogger writes (RUS):
One day, this list will definitely prove useful.
And in Moscow, some 200 people showed up at Novopushkinsky Square on Feb. 1 to support Alexanyan.
LJ user nl posted eight photos and this brief report (RUS) from the rally:
[...] Flags of the [United Civil Front], [Oborona youth movement], [National Bolshevik Party] and [Stop Chechen War anti-war movement] soared over the crowd. Slogans ranged widely from "Freedom to political prisoners!" and "FSB [Federal Security Service] is Russia's disgrace!" to "Moscow without [mayor Yuri Luzhkov]!" and "We'll teach you how to love the Constitution!"
After rallying for exactly an hour and a half, the crowd dispersed.
Here is one of the conversations about Alexanyan and Khodorkovsky that took place in the comments section of nl's photo report:
And who is he?
[a link to a selection of Russian-language news stories about Alexanyan]
But I still don't understand what he was being tried for.
He hasn't been tried. There hasn't been a trial yet. He's spent two years in pretrial detention center. They keep failing to beat a testimony against Khodorkovsky out of him.
Do they need more testimony against Khodorkovsky? He's in jail already, isn't he?
Not much is left of his sentence. That's why the regime is preoccupied with securing another jail term for him.
LJ user drugoi also attended the Feb. 1 rally, and his blog entry (RUS, eight photos and a video) has received 543 comments so far. While many bloggers expressed hostility towards Alexanyan, as many seemed to be shocked by such an attitude.
Below is a rather typical exchange:
Out of six comments, five are hateful. The extent to which you've been brainwashed by Putin's propaganda. People laughing at the terminally ill are subhuman.
People who are making their fortunes by looting natural resources are also subhuman. But if you steal, you should be prepared that sooner or later they'll bust you.