The story of Alexei Kozlov breaks my heart

I know I recently wrote that his wife is someone we should celebrate – and I stand by that – but his overall situation fills me with dread. It’s the story of a man with every piece of evidence on his side – and yet he was in prison and is most likely going back to prison. All because the feudal Moscow City court system needs to keep the balance of power in check. We all have to remember that bureaucracy is bigger than human beings. The sacred right of the bureaucrats to destroy lives and break apart families must be preserved. Otherwise, it will be just like 1917 again – and Russia doesn’t need another bloody revolution!

People in Moscow kid themselves when they argue that Kozlov’s case is special, because he’s a businessman. “I don’t have a business, so it couldn’t happen to me!” Sorry, no, it can. It can happen to anyone who has become, for any reason, “inconvenient.” Or to anyone who has the cops set upon them for any reason (there is a famous story of a taxi driver arrested after a brawl – cops falsified testimony and evidence after his family couldn’t bribe them quickly enough. It was all over the news in Russia – but the Moscow City court system prevailed. The people at the top of that system can never lose face – that’s why it prevails).

There is no real presumption of evidence within the courts. The criminal justice system presents a kind of meat-grinder, which exists solely to sustain and serve private interests – whether getting rid of a former business partner, or simply ticking a box (as in, when President Medvedev declared war on pedophilia, everyone suddenly started rounding up pedophiles – with or without evidence). It’s not tied to any principles or laws – laws themselves being contradictory and poorly written at times. The people who preside over it are mostly middle-aged women, deeply conscious of how prestigious their jobs are, and very eager to retain this prestige, which is at least partly derived from the terrorizing effect the courts have on the populace. The only saving grace of this system is the fact that it cannot sentence people to death – the moratorium on the death penalty stands.

Though “getting rid” of someone in prison is easy enough. “Unfortunate accidents” and “suicides” happen with some regularity.

7 thoughts on “The story of Alexei Kozlov breaks my heart

  1. Natalia, I really enjoy reading your blog and other writings, and I also enjoy your video “rants” with Anna, but aren’t you taking huge risks by poking a sharp stick in the hornets nest? Do be careful please!

  2. @Natalia Antonova

    This to second Matlock’s above caution. Natalia, you do indeed write important articles and blog posts, but there’s no point in putting yourself at risk. You have a child to raise and a husband to take care of. If the people you criticize are so willing to wreak injustice on a Russian citizen, there’s no telling what they’ll do to a U.S. citizen like yourself, or for that matter, anyone close to you. Please do be careful.

  3. Beautiful poem, PR. I don’t want to venture an opinion either way. Natalia and her hubby and baby’s safety may well be at risk. I like to believe that competent and courageous people who shake up the status quo by telling the truth at all costs will be honoured and protected in frightening times, for the gift they give the world.

    That is so not the way it happens in real life, tho. It might be ok to see Natalia get a little knucklescuffed, so she can fight and win. But not the little guy. What’s going to happen to him if they send her to “scream in the gulag showers”?

    I don’t comment often on your political commentary, Natalia. I don’t feel I understand enough about the culture&political climate to go flapping my gums about it. But I love to read it. For now, I will say this. Make sure you have a backdoor, somewhere you can hide if they come after you. And don’t tell us about it! Not even if it hits the fan and you get to your hidey-hole and you think you’re safe. Pollonium is nasty stuff, and it travels well through customs.

    In honour of Anna Politskaya, and so many others who have died in recent years, keep writing, I guess. Just cover your ass, ok?

  4. Judges don’t care who writes what about them. Not even Putin can do much about that system, and he’s tried in the past (few people remember that now, but it’s true). You guys might think I’m writing something revelatory here – but this has been said, over and over again, in almost every corner of the Russian media (including state-run television channels). No one gets killed or threatened for it either – just ignored.

  5. Seems that Russian system works along the lines of ‘guilty untill proven innocent’ and ‘we’ve got to maintain this 90% conviction rate’ … but how can you actually tell that this Kozlov guy is innocent?

  6. 98% conviction rate for Moscow city criminal courts.

    If you’re in criminal court, they actually, you know, have to prove that you are guilty. Which they haven’t done. I made it to the hearing on Tuesday, when the defense made its final statements. The case against him is a joke – and you can tell that the prosecuting side knows this. The older prosecutor is at least experienced enough to hide his emotions. His young assistant? Not so much.

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