Aleksanyan Denied Release for Illness

ReutersSupporters rallying with flags and portraits of Vasily Aleksanyan on Friday.
Moscow's Simonovsky District Court on Friday ordered former Yukos executive Vasily Aleksanyan, who claims to have been denied treatment for AIDS while in detention, to remain jailed while being tried on embezzlement and tax-evasion charges.

Judge Irina Oreshkina ruled that lawyers for Aleksanyan, 36, had failed to provide evidence that their client was in urgent need of treatment for terminal lymphoma at a specialized clinic.

"We have been provided with no documents proving that he has lymphoma," Oreshkina said in the ruling, which she read to a courtroom packed with journalists.

Addressing reporters after the ruling, defense lawyer Yelena Lvova said the judge had reneged on a promise to allow the defense to provide documentation confirming Aleksanyan's condition at a later date, as her client was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma only on Thursday.

"I have no illusions about our courts any more," Lvova said. "The defendant and his lawyers are unnecessary people here."

Aleksanyan, who appeared haggard and seemed to have difficulty walking and talking, told reporters from the defendant's cage that only a jury would be capable of giving him a fair trial.

"The jurors could evaluate the situation and the delirious accusations for themselves," he said. "Professional judges merely do what they are told."

The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday at the Simonovsky District Court.

Aleksanyan reiterated his claim that he was denied treatment for AIDS while in detention for not testifying against his former bosses, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, who are serving out eight-year prison sentences on fraud and tax evasion charges -- as well as facing new charges.

"I was told by the investigator: 'You will confess what we need.' But I was not afraid of them," Aleksanyan said.

Asked by a reporter what he thought would happen next, he said, "I think only God can help me now. ... It is written in the Bible, don't put your trust in people."

Khodorkovsky -- who had gone on a hunger strike to protest the Aleksanyan's situation -- has begun drinking water after learning that Aleksanyan's conditions had improved Thursday, Interfax reported Friday, citing the head of the Chita prison where Khodorkovsky is serving his sentence.

In a statement posted Friday on Khodorkovsky's web site, Khodorkovsky.ru, Lebedev said he was prepared recant his testimony in his own defense if it would help Aleksanyan "in some way."

Meanwhile, Federal Prison Service head Yury Kalinin said Friday that Aleksanyan himself was refusing medical treatment and that officials at the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility, where Aleksanyan is being held, planned to sue Lvova for "repeated" libelous statements about the jail's treatment of the suspect.

"A complete hysteria has erupted with one single goal: to disrupt the case," Kalinin said, Interfax reported. "All of this talk about Aleksanyan's health and treatment is completely baseless."

Aleksanyan has access to "modern, qualified medical treatment, including for the diseases he is suffering from," Kalinin said.

Human rights activists criticized Friday's ruling. Ella Pamfilova, head of President Vladimir Putin's Human Rights Council, called the situation around Aleksanyan "monstrous," Prime-Tass reported.