Yukos guilty verdict fails to surprise Russian media


The second guilty verdict against jailed former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky - handed down by a Moscow court on Monday - came as no surprise to Russian newspapers, some of whose commentators were critical of the finding.

One economist predicted that the verdict against Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev would have a negative impact on investment in the country.

And in Ukraine, a commentator said the ruling by the judge, who found the pair guilty of stealing from their firm Yukos and laundering the proceeds, proved that there was no justice in Russia.

Those who hoped that judge Viktor Danilkin would suddenly find sufficient civic courage to pass a fair verdict can now give up that hope for good. He found a different kind of courage. Because it is of course not easy to come out to people and deliver a guilty verdict after the outrage that has been taking place in court for the past two years.

The president of the Institute of Modern Politics, Vladimir Lysenko, is convinced: the guilty verdict is a victory for Prime Minister Putin. "Putin will do everything to become a leader and the struggle inside the tandem will only increase," Lysenko told Trud… Many in the West are convinced that Khodorkovsky is a victim of political persecution and the guilty verdict will cause much resentment there. While Western business may simply become afraid to invest money in Russia… Lysenko believes that the verdict will be a set-back for Russia's relations with the European Union.

Russian business daily Vedomosti

The guilty verdict will have an adverse impact, says chief economist of Troika Dialog investment bank Yevgeny Gavrilenkov. It creates uncertainty in the political, economic and social fields. Under these circumstances it is impossible to make long-range forecasts and, consequently, to take investment decisions. This is one of the causes for the outflow of capital from the country, he concludes.

Experts say circumstances are unlikely to change for the defendants before the end of the presidential race in 2012.

Christmas stories do sometimes happen on New Year's Eve but never in the courtroom. It is the place where one has to face the reality of life and if somebody secretly hoped that Khodorkovsky would not get a second prison term, they were as frustrated as a child who learns that Santa Claus does not exist.

Moscow's Khamovnichesky court has found... Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty on dubious charges of stealing oil and laundering money, proving once again that there is no justice in Russia and there will be none. It only remains to be seen how long a sentence the most honest and incorruptible court will hand down to Russia's political prisoner No 1.

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