I was able to attend the court proceedings on Tuesday – and our correspondent, Yulia Ponomareva, was there for the verdict yesterday – and I can tell you that this case is as nightmarish as it seems. It goes beyond the personalities of Alexei Kozlov and Olga Romanova (some would argue that a wealthy realtor and his high-profile journalist wife are very dishonest and very manipulative, respectively) – it’s a warning to all of us. Once a case has reached a Moscow city criminal court, a conviction is practically inevitable, facts and arguments be damned.
If you wanted to argue that Jesus was actually a corrupt pedophile involved in the casino racket – you’d go through the Moscow criminal courts, after getting investigators, who traditionally have very strong links to judges, to initiate a criminal case for a reasonable fee. The judges themselves don’t have to be corrupt – all they have to do is maintain the status quo. No one needs to bribe them to do that.
That’s because people fear judges – and the judges want to be feared. Being feared – as opposed to respected – is a true mark of prestige around here. And yet more and more people are getting angrier and angrier about this. Even Alexei Kudrin, a strong ally of the establishment and a moderate in almost every sense, tweeted yesterday that the case against Kozlov was “unconvincing.”