Former Yukos Chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky's verdict in his second Moscow trial was supposed to be delivered today, December 15. Without warning or notice, the court announced that the reading of the verdict has been delayed until December 26. The reason for the delay is obvious: Western newsmen leave Moscow between Christmas and New Year. Few will be in the Moscow court room to hear the predictable guilty verdict and the new prison sentence.
The Kremlin wants as little attention as possible. The Khodorkovsky case is becoming uncomfortable. There is widespread recognition that the charges are a sham and that Khodorkovsky is being kept in jail for political reasons. As a prisoner of conscience and a well known figure, a free Khodorkovsky could be a serious challenger to the Kremlin. The Kremlin needs to keep the verdict as quiet as possible because it is now attracting attention from civil rights advocates in Europe, who increasingly assign political dissident status to Khodorkovsky.
The Khodorkovsky case also exposes as false President Medvedev's so-called campaign to establish a rule of law in Russia. How can there be talk of rule of law when the most prominent rule-of-law case is the sham Khodorkovsky trial?