The Attack on Alexander Lebedev: A Blow to Russia’s Rule of Law and Freedom of the Press

Ariel Cohen /

This week, two seemingly unconnected events took place in Moscow. Yet, considered together, they have are of tremendous importance and serve to weaken the rule of law in Russia.

Last Tuesday, imprisoned former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky delivered a passionate speech at the end of his kangeroo court proceedings about the corroding lawlessness plaguing his country. As Khodorkovsky addressed the court, masked Russian police SWAT teams armed with Kalashnikovs raided the National Reserve Bank in Moscow. The bank belongs to Alexander Lebedev, another billionaire political opponent of the Putin-Medvedev “tandemocracy.”

According to international media reports, the businessman left Russia right after the raid. He may have done the right thing: when Khodorkovsky refused to leave, he ended up with two prosecutions for a combined requested sentence of 23 years in the GULAG. Other businessmen targeted by the state left the country—and also kept their freedom. (more…)