U.S.: Khodorkovsky conviction hurts Russia’s reputation

WASHINGTON (BestGrowthStock) – Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s conviction of money laundering and theft raises questions about political considerations tainting the rule of law in Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

“This and similar cases have a negative impact on Russia’s reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations and improving its investment climate,” Clinton said in a statement that appeared to take a dig at Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for failing to carry out judicial reforms.

Clinton said the conviction “raises serious questions about selective prosecution — and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations.”

Khodorkovsky’s lead defense lawyer told Reuters he would appeal the verdict, which government critics say suggests long-standing Kremlin promises to reform a court system marred by corruption and political influence are insincere.

Prosecutors are seeking an additional six-year prison term for the former Yukos oil company CEO but it could take judge Viktor Danilkin days to read what lawyers said was a 250-page verdict and announce a sentence.

Khodorkovsky is in the last year of an eight-year sentence imposed in 2005 after a politically charged tax evasion and fraud trial that shaped Vladimir Putin’s 2000-2008 presidency. Now prime minister, Putin is Russia’s dominant politician.

“We welcome President Medvedev’s modernization plans, but their fulfillment requires the development of a climate where due process and judicial independence are respected,” Clinton said. “We will monitor the appeals process.”

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Editing by Vicki Allen)

U.S.: Khodorkovsky conviction hurts Russia’s reputation