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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasparov Gate-Crashes Khodorkovsky's Trial

APKasparov talking to reporters outside a Moscow court on Wednesday.
Chess-master Garry Kasparov staged the latest of his guerrilla hit-and-run protests against the Kremlin on Wednesday, showing up at the criminal trial of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and engaging in a brief, heated debate with one of the prosecutors.

The Khodorkovsky trial has been plodding along with motion hearings, and Kasparov and some of his supporters managed to slip into the cramped third-floor courtroom without being challenged.

Spectators gawked and whispered when Kasparov sat on a front bench in the courtroom near Khodorkovsky, who smiled and nodded at his visitor.

When the judge ordered a recess, Kasparov confronted Prosecutor Gyulchekhra Ibragimova as she walked past him on her way out.

During the brief, tense exchange, Ibragimova told Kasparov that she respected him but added that he should have been playing chess rather than wasting his time in court. "You are an amateur" in the courtroom, she told him.

A smiling Kasparov accused the prosecution of seeking "to replace the force of law with the law of force" and suggested that she and other prosecutors were "selling the honor of your profession" by pursuing the case against Khodorkovsky.

A half-dozen guards, some with automatic rifles and pistols, stood by watching impassively.

Khodorkovsky and his co-defendant, former Yukos executive Platon Lebedev, witnessed the confrontation at close range from inside the glassed-in defendant's booth. Both grinned. Lebedev winked at one supporter.

Last week, Kasparov used a similar gambit, popping up Friday at a ceremony in Sochi during the mayoral race in that city, which is the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. He managed to do what the challengers on the ballot hadn't: confront the Kremlin-backed candidate, Anatoly Pakhomov.