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    Transcript of the press conference of Alexey Pichuginís lawyers and human rights activist L. A. Ponomarev | 29 Feb 2008

    Lev Ponomarev, Kseniya Kostromina, Dmitry KurepinLEV PONOMAREV

    Human rights community of Russia has called all sacrifices of the «Yukos case» political prisoners. I must say that it was not an ordinary event, because we know how public opinion is inclined regarding the sacrifices of the «Yukos case». Nevertheless, human rights activists practically unanimously admitted all the people who suffered in the «Yukos case» political prisoners. We have addressed our request to the «Amnesty International» to examine this question. The «Amnesty International» shows prudence, there are certain circumstances why they act like this. But I know that this question was examined there very carefully, I hope, that some day we will gain a victory and the «Amnesty International» will also admit them political prisoners.

    Against the background of other victims in the «Yukos case», Alexey Pichugin, of course, — is an especially tragic figure, it is necessary to write and speak about him. And I hope that, in spite of the fact that there are few journalists here, weíll be a success, nevertheless, to pay attention to the tragedy of the situation connected with Alexey Pichugin, and we will try to obtain that Pichuginís case will be covered in press. Of course, the tragedy is connected with that fact that he is practically condemned to death, for life. He was put pressure, and, most likely, he could evade such penalty, if he had given that evidence which investigators and, practically, authority demanded of him. He didnít do that.

    This is a first circumstance.

    And the second circumstance is connected with that fact that Pichugin got life-long imprisonment for very indirect evidence, i.e. I would say that, in general, practically without evidence of that he was the customer of those assassinations, of which he was accused. And I must say, that for me, although I know criminal cases, for me it is absolutely a new circumstance. I havenít met such grave sentence based on such indirect charges. It is clear why the customers of the «Yukos case» wanted to do that: they needed to reach Nevzlin first, and then Khodorkovsky, so to represent these figures more sinister in public opinion.

    Generally speaking, to my mind, in spite of Pichuginís conviction, the authorities lost Pichuginís case, because I am sure that in public opinion Pichugin, nevertheless, will be a tragic figure, who got his cruel punishment undeservedly.

    For me it is a personal anxiety Ė when I see that a person is convicted for life, without any inculpatory evidence. More importantly Ė having obtained that the criminals, who have numerous punishments will say through clenched teeth: «Yes, we seem to have seen Pichugin once». This is after the investigation, i.e. practically disproving the investigation, striving for this evidence during the course of court session. But before it, during the investigation, all charges were constructed only on that Gorin allegedly said that Pichugin had ordered (the murders). I.e., all murders were proved very much so. This is a failure of evidence. Indisputably, a failure. Gorin said, Gorin is a person who is not alive yet, he said that Pichugin had ordered. And of the basis of that they give a long-life imprisonment. This is, of course, outrageous. It is necessary to write, to speak and to cry about it.

    I give the word to the lawyer Kostromina who will state some additional circumstances now.


    It is difficult to say about some additional circumstances. The fact is that by the informational agency «For human rights» with our participation Ė mine and my colleague the lawyer Kurepin Ė there was prepared a press release in which the circumstances of the case had been expounded. Plus to this press release there were enclosed the extracts Ė not in corpore, but precisely the extracts Ė from our speech during the hearing of arguments at the second Pichuginís trial.

    The only thing that I want to state briefly for those present to understand, who, may be, does not know the subject, that Pichugin was convicted three times; one of the sentences was avoided. I.e., practically there were two cases regarding him investigated by court. The first case Ė on charges in the couple Gorinsí assassination, the attempted murder at Olga Kostina and armed assault at the employee of the company «Rosprom» Victor Kolesov. The second case, in result of which Pichugin got his life imprisonment Ė he was convicted for the assassination of the Nefteyugansk mayor Petuhov, the assassination of the head of the company „Foenix“ Korneeva and two attempted murders at the businessman Rybin. And the second criminal sentence took up twenty years of imprisonment which were passed on the first case, in result of which he got long-life imprisonment.

    At that, when the second criminal case was investigated by court for the first time Ė we had a very difficult system of investigation, — Pichugin got 24-year imprisonment in aggregate with the first case. After that, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation avoided the sentence, practically following by the reasons which were expounded in the appeal of Pichuginís defence, having agreed with the reasons of our appeal. But, at that, it wrote in its cassational ruling that at retrial it is necessary to examine a question about pronouncing a more severe sentence. And it avoided the sentence only regarding Pichugin, but regarding other figurants who had confessed guilt in committing these crimes, the sentence came into legal validity. Thus, there was created a collateral estoppel regarding Pichugin. And the second investigation of the criminal case, in general, may be called, in truth, not a trial, but a theatrical performance, which needed solely for pronouncing a more severe sentence to Pichugin. Thatís all.

    I think that my colleague Dmitry Kurepin has something to add.


    With regard to Alexey Pichuginís case one may speak hours-long. In general, all the case Ė it is a theatre of absurd, really. The theatre of absurd by such reason. It seems to me, that with a help of Pichuginís case all the techniques, how to imprison an innocent person in Russia, were practiced, indeed.

    One of the first techniques which we faced defending Alexey Pichugin Ė these are people condemned for grave crimes. These persons who convicted to long terms of imprisonment, persons, who condemned to life-long imprisonment. And in exchange, excuse me for my familiarity, for sausage, they practically buy their evidence against Alexey Pichugin.

    It was so necessary for the prevailing authorities that Alexey Pichugin should give evidence against Nevzlin. Our client have repeatedly stated it, he has stated as to the lawyers as to the press by means of the lawyers that he was pressed for the evidence exactly against Nevzlin. But Alexey Pichugin didnít come to terms with his conscience.

    Then, there were dragged Ė I canít find another word Ė such witnesses as Korovnikov, who was convicted for numerous tough murders, for mockery under minors, for violent acts regarding the jailbaits, after that he killed them, smothered them by a telephone cable.

    In exchange for the «holidays» in «Lefortovo» Korovnikov informs his own fantasies. And that Korovnikov dreams up there was seen with the naked eye, as he even couldnít identify Alexey Pichugin. For identifying Alexey Pichugin somehow among the extras, he asked them to turn by the right side to him. Iíll explain why this rapist asked to turn him like this. The fact is that when he served his sentence on the island Ognenny, the opetative visited him, showed him a group photo, on which attended Alexey Pichugin, fixed in profile. He turned Alexey Pichugin exactly like that for trying to mark out him among the extras. He has never seen him full face and could identify only like this.

    It gets worse and worse as it goes on. The next interesting character Ė the former police officer who was condemned to 7-year imprisonment for stealing. He stole as at the state, as the citizens who carried on business. This police officer in exchange for preferences from the direction of the state also was ready to give any evidence, and he had given them.

    And Ė it is an interesting peculiarity at that Ė the human memory functions so, that, after the expiration of some time, we forget some fine details. I.e., this is naturally, and everybody pays attention to that. But the memory of so called «witnesses» is quite original. With each interrogation, for some reasons, it filled with new and new details. And if to take the first interrogation and the last one Ė such an impression that these are two absolutely different persons had given evidence.

    And there are very many such nonsense evidence from the very beginning in all Alexey Pichuginís cases.

    Nonsense, for example, of such nature. From the place of crime there withdraws medullary substance, there makes the examination, the expert comes to the conclusion that this medullary substance does not belong to the husband and wife Gorins. Well, does not belong. This result doesnít suit. It is written on the envelope: «medullary substance», I pay attention of those present. The expert, who made the conclusion, packs up it in the black plastic bag, on which he writes down that this is a pasty substance. And to a new expert there comes not medullary substance yet, but the stone of white color. And investigating this stone, the new expert comes to the conclusion, that this is, allegedly, Gorinís brain.

    And the situation is paradoxical at that. When we try to pay our Justiceís attention at all this nonsense, such impression that you dash against the wall. Not only against the wall of misunderstanding, but of active opposition. Such an impression, that the Code of criminal procedure for people Ė is a work training centre, but not the Code of criminal procedure. And as a matter of fact in a greater degree why we came here, this is, may be, the last cry from the depths. Evidently, it is impossible to be tolerant to it. We have not only justice, but also we have not even the sources of justice. The last sentence, about which my colleague has said, is just another illustration of that. My colleague Kseniya Kostromina has paid your attention at that with a help by our appeal the sentence to Alexey Pichugin had been avoided. Illegal sentence. But which provides a 24-year punishment. As his lawyers, we havenít a right not to appeal and not to react to illegal actions of court. But the cynicism of the situation is just that, having agreed with the lawyersí arguments, and at that in its own resolution, the court of appeal writes: «Really, the lawyers Kaganer, Kurepin, Kostromina are right, and regarding Pichugin there infringed the procedural criminal law». And then there comes the full quotation of our appeal on 15 pages. And at the end it is written: «Meanwhile, rescinding the sentence and submitting the case to the reconsideration, the higher court pays attention of the inferior court that if it suddenly will be proved that Alexey Pichugin is guilty, then, you should consider the question about pronouncing to Alexey Pichugin a more severe sentence».

    For explaining what this means, I can say the follow: the guidance of the higher court is mandatory for the inferior court. Well, and, of course, the result is seen for all of us: Mr. Shtunder executed the directions of the higher court and in the absence of proofs Ė Alexey Pichugin was condemned to long-life imprisonment. And a new technique was perfected. Those persons, who Ė I will repeat again this aphorism Ė for sausages were delivered, and for easing in a regime were ready to confess and to slander any person right up to the assassination of Indira Gandhy, they stand up and with every new interrogation supplement their evidence.

    For example, the defence repeatedly paid courtís attention at that circumstance that the description of characters involved in Petuhovís assassination, given by characters, assisted directly in this assassination, i.e. by the eyewitnesses, does not coincide with Reshetnikovís and Tsygelnikís appearance, who confessed in committing this crime. Well, doesnít coincide. They are different by age, height, appearance, i.e. the anthropometry is different at all.

    And at that it is interesting that those persons, who were directly the eyewitnesses of the crime, during the interrogation in the General Prosecutorís Office are not interrogated. They were interrogated in 1998, when Petuhov was killed. Just after the assassination they was started to interrogate. But in 2004 they proves to be uninteresting for anyone. There is no any protocols of interrogation since 2004 till 2005 in the General Prosecutorís Office where these eyewitnesses would have been informed what they saw at the day of assassination.

    There appear new characters who suddenly identify Reshetnikov and Tsygelnik. Where did they come from, nobody understands. And here, when the defence in its appeal pays attention of the higher court to this circumstance, the Public Prosecutorís Office reacts. And Ė oh, miracle! Ė Tsygelnik, having been interrogated more then 26 times at the preliminary investigation, he has been interrogated three times at court, suddenly recollects. At the public prosecutorís question, here, I think, it is appropriate to cite this question and Tsygelnikís reaction: «And tell us, Tsygelnik, didn’t you change your appearance when you watched Petuhov?» He says: «Yes, I changed. We wore wigs there, glued beards». Listen, you had been interrogated for 26 times, and how do you explain it? But he is not going to explain anything, he is enough to crow. Here, he has informed.

    But another discord. Next, who is interrogated Ė Reshetnikov. And at the same question Reshetnikov replies that, provided to be, when they watched Petuhov, they didnít change their appearances. It is exactly that we did not change. A new attempt: «And when you watch Rybin?» «But when we watched Rybin Ė I changed the appearance. But about Tsygelnik Ė I donít remember».

    They settled, defined, designated everything what they need to say, but the memory let down so called «witnesses». It is just by reason of that their memory let them always down, their evidence cannot be put one on another, they are different all the time. Different all the time.

    It is interesting that for any other court, perhaps, except the Moscow City Court, it would be interesting to compare the primary evidence with the next one and to make a conclusion how it is truthful, how it is objective, how the reasons of the defence about that this evidence cannot be recognized trustworthy, correspond to the reality. Thus, to no reason of the defence there was any adequate reaction of the court. No reaction at all.

    There came to idiocy, to absurd. There comes a squared shit of paper from the notebook, which is called «the protocol of confiscation». Well, there is no such investigative action. There is no such investigative action specified by our law. The defence says: «Your Honour, it is necessary to except this proof, it doesnít correspond to the statutory requirement». No reaction. Any attempt to pay courtís attention to violation of law of Alexey Pichugin dashes against an active opposition. Not only against rejection, misunderstanding, but active opposition.

    What I am telling you now, may be, is not very interesting for the people, who, may be, writes on juridical subjects, but are not the masters of jurisprudence in corpore. And when I tell such stories to my colleagues, they laugh. They do not believe that it is truth. Just do not believe.

    And now in the finale we have the following. When, excuse me for a rude word, vile creatures came to Alexey Pichugin and said: «give evidence against Nevzlin», and he told them: «I wonít give such evidence», he was promised: you will get a life-long (sentence). This is the only promise, which they redeemed. Alexey Pichugin is condemned to life-long imprisonment.


    I would like to make one more emphasis. Yesterday we visited our client Alexey Pichugin and told him that the press conference was going to be. He authorized us to convey personally from him, to repeat the statements, which he has already made repeatedly, that he had been repeatedly visited by the law enforcement officers both during the preliminary investigation, and at the moment when the case had already been sent to court, and after there had been pronounced the first sentence on the second case. And in spite of his regular refusals they had continued to bargain with him and demand from him to give false evidence against himself and against other people from the «Yukos» top-management. Basically, the matter was, of course, about Nevzlin, as Alexey Vladimirovich and Leonid Borisovich are the targets in the nearly the same investigation. Alexey Vladimirovich asked to inform that he had never allowed himself to be led by the investigation bodies, had never agreed to give evidence slandering himself or someone else and he is not planning to agree to such offers, if such offers are received by him in future.


    I have a question to the lawyers, connected with a forthcoming Leonid Nevzlinís trial in the Moscow City Court. How do you suppose, whether Alexey Pichugin will be interrogated there as a witness? And in this connection, whether there were put pressure upon him, who is already convicted, for giving «right» evidence as a witness at court?


    Here, there are several questions in one. We have thought with colleagues whether Alexey Pichugin will be interrogated at court or not. Thatís why there will be two answers. Applying the law, in principle, he must be delivered to the court and be interrogated. How people, authorized to take decisions in a new trial will act, we donít know. It is just impossible to foreknow or to predict their actions. This is the first thing. The second Ė up to date no one came to Alexey Pichugin after his conviction. But Alexey will spend much time until he comes to the place where he will serve his sentence, and some time or over a long period of time he will be there; thatís why most likely they will come for him.


    Iíd like to add that if to originate from analogy Ė which, in principle, is inadmissible in a criminal action, but now Iím telling not about the trial, but about a self-giving entity, — when the second Pichuginís case was investigated at court, all those, who had been convicted before, were delivered to court and interrogated as witnesses. Here the situation is analogous, because the charges, which are brought against Nevzlin are all the same charges which has been already brought against Pichugin and for which he has been convicted. Convicted absolutely illegal and baseless, but never the less, the court decisions are exist. So, if to originate from analogy, he must be delivered to court. But, originated from what we see now in the system of our justice, we canít be surprised at anything. And if the criminal case regarding Nevzlin will be tried in the absence of Alexey Pichuginís evidence, I donít think that we will discover something strange in it.


    Tell me, please, will these «witnesses» for the prosecution Ė I mean Korovnikov and others Ė be interrogated?


    By all means.


    They will be interrogated hundred percent, because the Office of Public Prosecutor and the court know for sure what evidence they will give. Thatís why they must be delivered to court without fail, for to state to the general public so called «knowledge», I put this word in quotes, which they possess.


    Well, may be even not all the witnesses, still. The matter is that we had several interesting moments in the trial. The most sensational Ė this is Michail Ovsyannikovís statement, that in the course of preliminary investigation the General Prosecutorís Officeís representatives and operative officers having implemented the support of this case, made him to slander himself and to slander Pichugin first of all. At that Ovsyannikov himself, having been repeatedly interrogated at court, he has been interrogated twice, at repeated interrogation he has given analogous evidence, stated that the investigation bodies had been interested in the following. Here, I am citing Ovsyannikov here: „You say the most important things: «Nevzlin, Pichugin, Khodorkovsky». And the most important, you say that now youíre afraid of reprisal for your given evidence. We are not interested in anything else. At all the questions Ė «Nevzlin, Pichugin, Khodorkovsky».

    The next news was the following. On the first case there were interrogated the members of Korovnikovís gang. I.e. of this inveterate rogue who killed people. And it is interesting the following. There was one of the episodes, made up out of whole cloth. Allegedly, in January in 1999 Korovnikov came with his gang to meet Alexey Pichugin. This meeting took place near the Paveletsky train station. During the first trial everyone of four persons who were interrogated, affirmed the same and gave the same evidence. But during a new trial, in another court session, only Korovnikov alone stated that he had gone to meet Alexey Pichugin. Three members of the gang told: no, there was a meeting with Alexey Peshkun. This is another person. This is absolutely another person who was acquainted with this Korovnikovís gang. And they didnít go to meet Alexey Pichugin in January.

    Well, Korovnikov seems to be guided by his own circumstances, giving false evidence.


    It appears from this that regarding Korovnikov they apparently redeem promises till now which were given to him, and regarding three members of his gang, those promises which they were given, were not fulfilled apparently.


    It happens that the «witnesses» are the criminals again?


    There are no other ones. It is paradoxically, that there comes a normal people who say the truth. As soon as the person stands up on the witness-box, it is clearly seen by him whether he says the truth or lies. There comes a normal person and it is seen by him. There are circumstances which are not kept by human memory. Try to see for a second where you were last evening at 4 p.m. If there were no any bright event, you will spend some time to remember what happened yesterday. The same Ė there comes a normal person and has difficulty in remembering fine details which were uninteresting to him.

    But on the other hand, all these trained criminals, they remember everything. But what do they remember? It is also interesting, we have left this moment. What do these criminals remember? Well, except Korovnikov, let him go. The rest of them affirm that Gorin, who was acknowledged killed, allegedly told them that Alexey Pichugin had given instructions concerning this deal.


    And Leonid Borisovich Nevzlin instructed Alexey Pichugin.


    Yes. The idiocy of the situation is in this. You imagine for a second a small scheme. Alexey Pichugin addresses to Gorin and says…


    He is a counterintelligence office, having a special training. Yes, by the way. He says: «You must find a person who will kill, but by all means tell him that it was I who asked you, and I was asked by Lenya Nevzlin». That person finds executors, whom he also informs: «Remember, I asked, and I was asked by Pichugin, and he was asked by Nevzlin». And so is passed by the chain. Ten parts. Nevertheless, there must be the limits of absurdity, I think.


    One more question, probably, to Kseniya Lvovna. Have the European Court of Human Rights received the appeal from the courtís dicision with regard to the second case and can it be considered on a priority basis?


    Well, I should elucidate at once, that the European Court receives all the appeals which come to it. Any appeal, which comes to the European Court, obtains a number. The appeal from the second Alexey Pichuginís case was registered by us on the 21-st of August 2007, because we suppose that the violation of the Article 6 of the European Convention («Right of fair legal prosudure») regarding Alexey Pichugin from the second case has started at the moment of sentenceís avoiding. When the sentence was avoided on the 21-st of February only regarding him, but not regarding everybody in aggregate, and with indication to pass a more severe sentence regarding him. I.e. we supposed that the violation of the Article 6 had started just at that time, thatís why during six months from the moment of passing the sentence we have sent the appeal, it is registered by the court, is has a number.

    But now, when the sentence regarding Alexey Ė the second one Ė came into effect, we have six months from the moment of coming the sentence into effect for to supplement that appeal which we has registered, with additional arguments about violation of Article 6. It will demand, of course, some time from us, as there were lots of infringements, from our point of view.

    Can it be considered on a priority basis? Can or cannot — yes, it can, so far as the European Court as an institution presupposes the consideration of appeal on a priority basis. But whether it will agree with our arguments that it is necessary to consider the appeal on a priority basis by virtue of the fact that the conditions of detention for the convicts to life imprisonment form on its own account the violation of the Article 3 of the Convention? And just very Article which forbids tortures, brutal and humiliated dignity not only treatment, but punishment as well. I.e. it involves the question of serving a sentence as well. I.e. whether the European court will agree with our arguments that the custody in tortured conditions on the basis of the sentence, passed by unjust interested court with violation of the Article 6 of the Convention? It is difficult for me to say instead of the European Court.


    Tell, please, have you, in general, any hope to liberate Pichugin? Can you count, in full, upon the reconsideration of the case, for example, under some new circumstances? In general, how do you suppose, can your work be crowned with success?


    I can tell only from juridical point of view how this situation can move. Alexey Pichuginís appeal which was lodged by us in his interests from the first case when he was condemned for the assassination of the Gorins, the attempt at Kostina and Kolesov, the appeal from this case was already accepted long ago. The European Court put the questions to the government of the Russian Federation, it produced its memorandum, we sent our objections to this memorandum, now the government produced its objections to our objections, though, in principle, this makes no provision. Now we have a chance to produce our objections to its objections. But the process somehow or other is in a final stage. And after all this, when we all finally will change our objections, the European Court will take its disposition decision.

    The questions were put as on the Article 3, i.e. inhuman and treatment, humiliated dignity, as on the Article 5 Ė all these questions connected with illegality of arrest and custody, as on the Article 6, what is the most important for us, in general Ė it is a right on fair legal procedure.

    The questions concern whether the court which convicted Pichugin was created on the basis of law. Because we put a question that the jury was formed illegally. As we couldnít check whether all the members of the jury who participated in the case consideration, were in single lists of the candidates to the jury for the Moscow City Court. Because this list wasnít published anywhere. We distributed inquires in enormous number to all administrative districts, to municipal districts which might publish these lists. And some of them answered us «we donít publish, we havenít money» or «we donít publish just because we donít publish» and literally from some of them they sent us the lists. Thatís why to check whether the jurymen were in the lists, we were not able to. Thus, we put a question that under the existing legislation the lists were not published, and correspondingly the court hasnít been created on the basis of law. Plus some more questions were put by the European Court, they also concern precisely the violation of the right on fair legal procedure.

    Further. If the European court — I say «if», as the decision hasnít taken yet Ė takes a decision to the effect that Pichugin is the victim of violation of his rights, fixed in the European Convention, further on the basis of Article 413 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation the European Courtís decision is just those very new Ė not discovered again, but new Ė circumstances which are the basis for reconsideration or disaffirmation of previous court decisions. And the presiding judge of the Supreme Court is obliged in accordance with law on its own initiative to appeal to the presidium of the Supreme Court with submission about reconsiderations or disaffirmations of taken decisions. The presidium of the Supreme Court must to considerate during a month this submission and take a decision.

    If suddenly, as I hope too much, the European court recognize the violation exactly the right on fair legal procedure, the Supreme Court has no other variant but only to avoid the sentence and the appeal from the first case. If the Court will act in accordance with law, it will avoid these decisions. And then we will get temporal but respite, thus, the case must be sent to the Moscow City Court to reconsideration, and, correspondingly, Alexey Vladimirovich must be transported by guard back to Moscow.

    But, again, those things that I say now Ė I say about how it must be in accordance with law. But, unfortunately, our justice has gone far away from law recently. Thatís why how it will beÖ You asked what we hope for Ė I have told you what we work for. I.e., we make our efforts, as we have no other variants. To appeal now in the exercise of supervisory powers… Together with Alexey Vladimirovich we havenít decided this question once and for all, but at the given moment our opinion is that it is rather senselessly. Because it is that very Supreme Court which has already made its case decision. Thatís why the only chance for us Ė to try to make our system of justice to work through the European Courtís decisions.

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