Russia’s legal system is in a bad way. If you need evidence, look no further than the case of the jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, accused of stealing 350 million tonnes of oil while head of Russia’s largest oil company. In December a Moscow court found Khordorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, the co-defendant, guilty and sentenced the two men to 14 years in prison.
During the trial evidence emerged to demonstrate the impossibility of the defendants having committed the crimes of which they were accused. So compelling was the case for the defence that the prosecution was forced to reduce its claim from 350 million to 218 million tonnes, citing lack of evidence and arithmetical error.
However, in a bizarre Gogolesque twist, the judge overrode the prosecution and found