The European Court of Human Rights ruled on May 31 that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former owner of Yukos, had not proved political motivation in his prosecution on charges of fraud and tax evasion:
While Mr. Khodorkovsky’s case might raise some suspicion as to what the real intent of the Russian authorities might have been for prosecuting him, claims of political motivation behind prosecution required incontestable proof, which had not been presented.
The Strasbourg Court did rule that he had been illegally arrested and held under inhumane conditions and levied a nominal fine on the Russian government.
The Strasbourg ruling set off elation in Putin’s “power” ministries of justice and the procuracy. Although Khodorkovsky’s supporters welcomed the court’s rebuke for illegal arrest and inhumane conditions of confinement, no international court ruling was really necessary. Any picture of Khodorkovsky – a non-violent white collar defendant – held in a glass cage for months in a Moscow court was more than enough to prove this point.