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    Leonid Nevzlinís interview about the «case» | 5 Feb 2009

    Leonid NevzlinIn the Prague publishing house «Human Rights Publishers» there is going to come off the press the book of the journalist and the human rights activist Vera Vasilieva «Without witnesses? Nevzlinís case: the notes of the trialís eyewitness». This publishing house continues a cycle of the authorís books about Alexey Pichuginís trials, who was sentenced to life imprisonment as the «accomplice» of Leonid Nevzlinís «criminal actions» Ė «How Alexey Pichugin was tried. The judicial reportage» and «The third Alexey Pichuginís trial. The Yukos case chronicle».

    The publishing house «Human Rights Publishers» has published on its site a fragment from the future book Ė a shorter variant of the authorís interview with Leonid Nevzlin about the «case».

    Leonid Borisovich, evaluate, please, the judgment. You have repeatedly spoken that it is politically motivated, but I would like to know, who, to your mind, is interested in such judgment. And why, generally speaking, there needed one more trial? But Khodorkovsky, and not only he, has been behind bars for a long time, «Yukos» stopped its existence.

    Probably, I wonít say anything new, because this story is of long standing. It seems to me that the sentence was «voiced» for the first time by Putin as far back as before the official investigation. When Alexey Pichugin was arrested, then some time later Ė Platon Lebedev, there rained questions regarding this case, including from foreign journalists. And Putin pronounced such phrase, and then repeated it several times, a kind of: you, there, do not understand all the things, it is not only economy there, but also there are some slaughters.

    It would seem, where from the Russian president could know about what had been there and where all this was going to, if the investigation had just started? At that moment they suspected Pichugin only in organization of the Gorinsí assassination. It is not related to «Yukos» at all. And the suspicion regarding Pichugin arose only on that basis that they were close friends with the Gorins, practically the relatives, they christened children together.

    Why I say all this. The sentence was predetermined beforehand Ė before Pichuginís arrest. All the more, before Lebedevís, Khodorkovskyís arrest and all the othersí. We just didnít understand it at once, because nobody, including me, didnít believe that such lawlessness is possible. Thatís why I suppose that the customer of all trials, and, therefore, of the sentences, without doubt, is the Kremlin authorities in their «family» broadened variant. I consider Putin here probably as an accomplice or a chief manager of this trial, because he was for them a chief manager of all country.

    That fact that also in this trial there were interested the persons who experienced a personal hostility to me, to Pichugin, to Khodorkovsky Ė is not so important. The hostility, connected with failures in joint business activity, as in Rybinís case. Or a personal hostility, as in Kostinaís case, who many years ago so seized in your most humble servant, that she canít leave me alone till now. These persons admit themselves that they couldnít do anything until Putin came to power.

    But the times have changed, and for such persons as Rybin, the sun is seen. Now, under this power, one can do everything with this «Yukos». There he started to press for the «truth».

    True, at that, Rybin forgot to tell that he had lost all economic trials in the courts of arbitration Ė not only in Russia, but also abroad. So, nobody owed him, and thatís why there is no motive to attempt at his life. I even donít say about a moral aspect. There was no just a necessity to give him money back.

    Moreover, in every big joint-stock company with a capital running into billions the responsibility of management come to an end, when its decisions directly depend on judicial decisions, on decisions of shareholdersí meetings or board of directors. And if Rybin had got a legal decision on withdrawal of money, he would have got them. Upon my honour, both Khodorkovsky and Nevzlin would have never cared about this money. But until there is no such decision, it is illegal to give the money back. It means that the management will be incapacitated at the board meeting, at the shareholdersí meeting or in a judicial procedure.

    Rybin had made money as a result of the unfair deal with the previous company management, and it is obviously, that other way, except to blackmail the company, its management by criminal and other kinds of the persecution, and then to cavil at Pichugin and to blackmail me, extorted money from me repeatedly, — he had no other way. And here such situation turned up.

    The authorities had, without doubts, partners in crime. I canít but remember Mr. Kantor, who by his formal and informal statements helped to formalize the «Apatit case». There were others assistants. I know that Khodorkovsky excessively trusted in such persons as Abramovich, Voloshin, Surkov, who had used his confidence for to show to the authorities how dangerous he is for them, to toughen the KGBís employees position to him.

    Thus, the sentence was written long ago. That it will be lifelong, I understood after a final Pichuginís judgment. It is quite obvious, that I couldnít get less, then he did. I was appointed the «person in charge for the case», thatís why I might get a life-long sentence.

    And, for example, Golubovich. Why did he give false evidence against you, what motives had he, what do you suppose?

    In the course of this trial and from his interview which Golubovich gad given to Michail Leontyev, I got to know many new things for me. For example, that I had personal mutual relations with him, with his wife Ė that, of course, is not true. In spite of that he was a shareholder, we had never been on friendly terms. There were no any case of joint pastime, except the famous trip to the Caucasus at the final stage of our partnership. And personally, we had gone neither on a visit to each other, nor to the restaurant. We had little in common, and, frankly speaking, I thought nothing of him.

    It appears that for some his own, personal, reasons he experienced a deep hostility to me. Evidently, also to Khodorkovsky, but it was more personal to me. The stories about constant unsuccessful persecutions, most likely, were necessary to the investigator for a criminalization of my image. But all this absolutely does not correspond to the facts. By the way, he didnít say anything in a result, he just could not give any distinct evidence.

    Yes, he told about the mercury, spilt by somebody in the car, which was used by the members of his family. But there is this episode neither in the accusation of the General Prosecutorís Office, nor in your sentence, i.e., nobody takes it seriously.

    I hope. This is all stuff and nonsense.

    Concerning the relations with Mr. Rybin, Golubovich knows perfectly well that I hadnít worked yet in «Yukos» then. Another deputy chairman was employed on this work, who was intrusted to carry on investment negotiations. The lawyers, the way it should be, carried on juridical negotiations, Kazakov solved his frame Ė then, he was the deputy chairman on oil extraction.

    I.e., Golubovich perfectly knows that I wasnít involved in this story. Why did he ascribe me some meetings, in which I hadnít taken part, some words, Iíd never spoken?

    I think, he acquired a hostility to me not long ago: it was necessary to ground somehow the cooperation with the authorities Ė morally, for himself. He was, as a matter of principle, bought: being the person who had arranged the deals, had signed the documents, he escaped problems. At the time when the general managers Ė Lebedev, Khodorkovsky are behind bars, including allegedly for the same actions, connected with «Apatit», «Yukos». I.e., I think he bases for himself his treachery by that he was «offended».

    Of course, nobody had offended him, he had been always helped, because he had been a partner. Khodorkovsky created a certain culture of relations for the partners and principal shareholders. The Security service had no the right to concern itself with it without an appropriate report and a personal talk with Khodorkovsky. Nobody could spy, to tap the talks. This is all an idle talk.

    My discontent of that he was handed over the company «Russian product» Ė these is a kind of ravings. This theme took at the shareholdersí meeting about 10 seconds. Khodorkovsky suggested, as Golubovich ran the «Russian product», selling cheaply to him the controlling interest of this business. Thatís all.

    Nobody had told the objections. Firstly, because he is a partner, with a family business. Secondly, against a background of the huge «Yukos» it didnít matter much. On the contrary, then there tried to get rid of budensome assets Ė either by selling, or by transmission to the management of other teams. «Yukos» was a very big company Ė there was just no time for other assets.

    As far as I remember, it was an ordinary Saturday meeting. The issue of the «Russian product» took about 10 seconds: Khodorkovskyís suggestion Ė everyone is for it, letís go further.

    You have mentioned the trip of the «Yukos» high-ranking employees to the nature reserve «Kavkaz» (The Caucasus), in this connection I would like to ask you the question which is put to me very often, because, as a journalist, I carry on this case. At your trial next to the surname Nevzlin there constantly was heard the surname Pichugin. You told that you didnít know Pichugin and even was sorry that you hadnít known such a good person. But in the files of your case there is a video cassette with the film about that trip, and on the tape, besides other people, there recorded Alexey Pichugin and you. Some people perceive a contradiction in it. How can you explain it?

    Unfamiliar. And now I regret that I was not able to build relations with him, because, perhaps, I lost a good potential friend.

    And concerning this trip… We were not involved in the organization of this trip and got known only on the meeting place whom Shestopalov had taken to escort us. Shestopalov, the head of the Security department, was on holiday together with us, thatís why he had ordered Pichugin, his subordinate, to be responsible for the security. So, at such level we had been faced. And on the cassette it is seen that there were no any case of close communication between Pichugin and me.

    Yes, and the witness, the director of the nature reserve, told that there hadnít been personal relations between you and Pichugin.

    I remember that I asked the only question to Lesha [Alexey Pichugin]. I saw him for the first time not in uniform, such unbuttoned, and he had a cross on his breast, and I asked him: «Youíre religious, it turns out?» He answered: «Yes, Iím an orthodox believer». Thatís the only thing in general that we discussed then.

    I regret profoundly that the system was built in such way that even in the period of my work in «Yukos» my relations according to the status had been built with the head of the Security department, and a direct communication with his subordinates without his knowledge had been impossible. When Shestopalov wanted the high-ranking managers Ė Khodorkovsky, me or someone else Ė could hear a report, as they say, from somebodyís own lips, he invited an appropriate person to a general meeting. And with Alexey we had, may be, one or two such working episodes.

    In general, it is difficult to imagine that we had some personal relations. Yes, people work together for a long period of time, but the distance in such a huge company between top-managers, shareholders and executive managers is vast. Nothing to do Ė a rule of manner.

    And in the west, what is the attitude to the «Yukos case» in general and to your case Ė particularly?

    During these years the «Yukos case» became a symbol of unfreedom in Russia. And now the plot thickens: because of all this false trials there are no actually any doubts in peopleís guiltlessness. At this moment the «Yukos case» Ė is a good visiting card.

    I.e., if the attitude to you changed after the judgment, it changed for the better?

    Yes, because we are considered the victims of the totalitarian regime. And it is not because I have done lots for that, although, I would like to compliment myself too much. In the first instance because during these years Russia passed a huge negative evolution, connected directly with this regime. Everybody sees it, thatís why in general the confidence is on our side, not on their one.

    You watch closely a political life of Russia. Now, in liberal circles there is a discussion whether it is possible to cooperate with the authorities, with left opposition. Michail Khodorkovsky, appealing to the organizers and participants of the scientific conference «Khodorkovsky readings», passed in the end of October 2008 in Moscow, in particular, wrote: «It would worth trying once again not on the political, but on the intellectual level to find a wide consensus in the ranks of opposition on some immediate steps, which would worth doing on the way to the democratization of the country. If such consensus turns out acceptable also for a part of bureaucracy Ė it is excellent. It means that this part of the way we can pass together». And what do you think about it?

    I, in general, adhere rather radical views. Before explaining my position, Iíll say that I have less rights to judge now, because Iím not in Russia. For me it is easier and more difficult in this sense. Easier Ė because I donít undergo the risk.

    I understand very well that to live nowadays in Russia, to have own views and to uphold them is conjugated with certain, letís say, compromises. Including and in the first instance Ė the compromises with yourself. Feeling yourself a democrat, a liberal, a person of free choice and coming to the system of interrelations with present authorities, you, as it were, cover their lawlessness, temporize with your own conscience. A difficult question Ė whether it worth doing for to stand up for some beginnings or remains of liberalism in Russia. Or, on the contrary, a compromising attitude with authorities will destroy them, sooner or later.

    I incline to think that it will destroy. I incline to think that all our, excuse me, Liberal Democratic junk of last and present periods will be written off. And in Russia there will appear new people, who didnít temporize. Just because they appeared as new ones, not burdened by those arrangements, conventions, obligations.

    Today, such situation has emerged when a borderline between a human rights movement and politics is wiped off: if you defend humanís rights, you are in a political opposition to this power, by all means. To be an upright person is risky and difficult, to be a humanitarian, what is most important for me and for you, perhaps, is still more difficult. And, to my mind, not to be a humanitarian and to be a liberal democrat is impossible.

    Is there a problem between me and Khodorkovsky? Yes, there is an ideological one. I can neither trust Medvedev as the initiator of reforms, nor support them, therefore. Including, I mean a judicial reform.

    Because, for me there are very understandable simple principles. Everything starts from a freedom of speech. The freedom of speech forms all the rest freedoms, and including independence of justice. And the observance of law is not a consequence of some order or line of command (all the more, there is no any order, but there are corruption and lawlessness), but a result of freedom of person, displayed in freedom of speech, independence of justice and human rights.

    And what can promote the changes, in particular, in your case?

    Russia can free itself from dictatorship only when it becomes free of oil dependence. When the necessity to work arises. To work Ė it means to produce, to serve, to get proportionately to the labour, which is brought in.

    To change its actual political system Russia can only as a result of economic crisis. When a current power Ė as it was with the Soviet power, then with the power of Eltsyn in 1998 Ė doesnít cope with the budget, doesnít be able to continue supporting beggarly, but, at least, somehow paid social sphere.

    The farther this moment is postponed, the more the probability of a dramatic, i.e. bloody disintegration of the country, when the regions will run after whoever you like. And the farther that Mosaic walking on the desert will be postponed, that all the same will lead Russia to democracy of western type Ė the only possible for it, from my point of view, form of political system.

    Although, of course, there is also a Far Eastern type that mentally is not nearer: Russia is not China. The Russians canít work like that, they canít sense themselves a cog in the machine. Russians have a western mentality. And even if Russia is taken aside of this way, what happens now (nationalist movement, friendship with Iran, HAMAS etc.), all this will be washed away. Because there is an intellectual, a democratic, a leaderís background in the west. It is pointless in trailing along at the back, when you are calling to be at the head.

    Russia is not in a very advantageous situation. Such advantage as oil, gas, metal and other resources smoothes over a huge territory, cold weather, bad communications, a collapsing infrastructure, poverty-stricken population.

    It is necessary to have a structural economy, but the country does nothing, instead of selling raw oil. The authorities care nothing but oil…

    Weíll see. But my projection is Ė there will happen something material. And connected exactly with that we are in the beginning of a new crisis.

    Tell, please, about your interests. What is important for you now, what projects you realize, what you care about.

    For me it is important the people to get free. This «project», if it can be called like this, I will carry on until I have strength. Because I feel, to put it mildly, uncomfortable, when, because of me, Pichugin is in prison, when Bakhmina, Alexanyan, Lebedev, Khodorkovsky and others are in jail.

    To be engaged in those things that I like Ė humanitarian, educational projects, including those which connected with the fortunes of the Jewish nation all over the world, freedom of the individual and so on, — money is needed which must be made. Thatís why I invest in different projects. I have offices where I work Ė both in Israel and in the United States. Here Iím more engaged in the organizational questions, in the United Stated Ė in the investment ones.

    I have a very good family, many good friends in different countries. I communicate with many people Ė both on the phone and on personal meetings.

    I try to help my wife, she is a businesswoman Ė she produces, buys and sells the adornments for men. She has opened her first shop here, in Israel. My voice is only consultative, she copes excellently with her own business.

    I regularly meet my parents, my grandson has been born, my daughters also live in Israel.

    Besides my business interests I, of course, have many others. I like to collect something Ė for example, Japanese decorative art, the pictures of the Israeli artists, the books. I read much about everything that concerns freedom and freedom society Ė the books by Zakharia, Thomas Freedman, Russel.

    I develop my English, I study Hebrew little by little.

    As all modern people I watch films, and rather many. Different films, including Russian ones. I take a great interest in historical films. And also in documentary ones.

    And some more Ė I like music, I have very much music Ė about 40 gigabytes.

    Oh my!

    In real, it is not too much, but it is many-many hours for listening. I collect a classical music. Iím a fan of the Beatles. Iím an admirer of Pink Floyd, I like Michael Jackson, Gershvin, the musicals.

    I collect some watch, which I like aesthetically. Expensive or cheap Ė it doesnít matter, the matter is not in price.

    I collect rosary. Today there might be brought new rosary into my mailbox. Iíve got two dogs. One is male, and another one is female. They also need attention and care. Before, I hadnít had home, and now Iím occupied with it, I permanently do something, change, build.

    I keep up with new technical products, I work on two computers Ė on Mac and PC.

    As you know, I have my blog in LiveJournal.

    I like to eat and drink with pleasure. I know much enough about vines, even exotic.

    I like traveling. Recently, we have visited the West Indies, the Caribbean islands, weíve been in real wildness. It is absolutely another world, awfully interesting.

    All the time I think over the plans of possible books in future. Or, most likely, these must be not books, but sites, or portals, or forums, it must be thought over. But I have lots of projects.

    One of my favorite themes is the Jewish people, their future. A multifaceted theme, I think about it all the time, I want to develop it.

    I have never had and I havenít now a working day from beginning to end, when one can be dying of boredom. Thatís why the work is just a part of life. I canít idle, all the rest I can. If only it is interesting and benefit people.

    Hertzliya — Moscow, November, 2008

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