Kremlin critic Kasparov condemns new Khodorkovsky trial
29/ 04/ 2009

MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) – Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov blasted state prosecutors and a new case against former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky at hearings on Wednesday.

“State prosecutors’ incompetence, cowardice and poor speaking skills reflect the situation in the country, where authorities are not prepared to a fair debate with opponents,” Kasparov, a former world chess champion and leader of the United Civil Front opposition group, said as quoted on the website.

A Moscow court is considering a request on Wednesday, lodged by the defense team acting for Khodorkovsky in the fresh embezzlement and money laundering case, to dismiss prosecutor Gyulchekhra Ibragimova over alleged bias.

Ibragimova said in the courtroom that the defense’s numerous requests to remove state prosecutors in the case earlier were pointless.

Kasparov, who attended the hearing as a sign of support for Khodorkovsky, said things would change when former president and current premier Vladimir Putin leaves the political scene.

“The trial will end with Putin’s departure, and the state prosecutors’ role in the case will be reviewed,” Kasparov said.

Kasparov and other critics consider Khodorkovsky a victim of political repression under Putin.

The former oil tycoon has been serving an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion since 2005 and could have his term extended by another 20 years if convicted of the theft of government shares and the laundering of money earned from illegal oil sales, in total worth about $50 billion.


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