The struggle for transfer of the ill person to the hospital ended in half-hearted victory by the mercy. And yet it was a victory. The struggle was between the Russian and international community on one side, and the law enforcement bodies on the other side. For the purpose of clarity we shall be considering that Simonovsky Court of Moscow was in the middle and was to choose between the arguments of formal jurisprudence (position by the state prosecution) and arguments of humanism, i.e. informal law. The court worked a wonder, as of today wonder is an act of kindness made on the state level. With all those reservations, and difficulty, with the fact that the court was just made to come to that decision, and probably that was not a sincere wish by the judges – anyway the accused was granted the right to get well or die in a humanely manner. This fact is new and unexpected for Russia of the late years where we have only seen the stream of mercy run lower, judging for example on the practice of pardon giving on behalf of the President. And that was accompanied with corresponding rhetoric.
May God help the courageous man Vasily Aleksanyan to survive and recover. This depends now not on the community, or court, or escort at the door to his ward, and even not on the medicine. Here I am going to speak not about Aleksanyan’s fate, but about that of Aleksanyan’s case. The case has little chance now to end up in verdict of guilty, while possibility of verdict of not guilty has always been unreal. The whole course of the YUKOS case, that has not changed, obliged the law enforcement system to manage that Aleksanyan be called a culprit – dead or alive. It was not impossible technically. If no mercy was shown towards Svetlana Bakhmina with her two underage children, if Lebedev could be sent unlawfully to serve a sentence in Kharp, if Pichugin’s case was considered in a close hearing without any clear lawful arguments, if the Court of Moscow considered the appeal by Khodorkovsky just in one day, why couldn’t the Simonovsky Court have ignored the defense’s arguments and sentence Aleksanyan in one week, so that to avoid his death before that?
So far the YUKOS case has reminded of an asphalt steamroller rushing downhill. And now due to the absence of the verdict of guilty in Aleksanyan’s case, a small crack has appeared in the evenly laid asphalt surface. That has been an almost impossible precedent for the steamroller. Who managed to stop it? Moscow Helsinki group? Council of Europe? Khodorkovsky going on a hunger strike in Chita? Of course no. The steamroller is not capable of accepting such signals; it would rather turn on even tougher mode of “laying”. It’s only one man – the guarantor of our Constitution - who started the movement of this machine in 2003; it’s only he who could have said “stop”. And he did it shortly before the inevitable event – changing of the guarantor of the Constitution.
The two guarantors – the current and the to-be – graduated from the law department of Leningrad State University. This allows them both to position themselves as “jurisprudents”. But differently from the latter, the former grew up in a professor’s family and never had a service in KGB, according to his official biography. In relation to that fact, the interpretation of the word “jurist” may now change a bit in nuances and in the sense often talked about in the Bar Association where the managing top is densely “reinforced” with enforcing officers starting with the minister of justice Mr. Ustinov and his associates. Though, even the enforcement top officers, catching the changes, may become a bit softer now. And then even the Constitution itself might become softer, as the matter of course is not about the text of the Constitution, but about the ways of interpreting and applying it on the individual top level of the authority, including its judicial branch.
Of course, it’s too early now to talk about “giving in to pressure” or showing real mercy, i.e. about changes of the face of the authority. Nevertheless, the power by Vladimir Putin is formatted differently now. To a certain extent, it is restricted now with his own decision to promote as a successor – making choice between the two - the person who is more a lawyer than himself. We shall not be discussing the logic of that decision. But even when the tales are told to us about how it happened, there must have been some inner logic. After the castling made on the King’s flank, the men are standing in such an order that the attack can only be developed on the Queen’s flank only, and the opposite will lead to defeat. And our business, as it is taught by the fairy tales, not to miss the opportunities. We are also opportunists: just give us this matter, and we shall take it. When it comes to freedom, human rights and human dignity, of course we shall take it, we aren’t too proud to accept it.
It is important that other “jurisprudents” also feel that new vector. Dear “jurisprudents!” (I put the word in quotation mark because so far this profession has been defined only with formal training, including the diplomas of the militia schools). It’s about time you began to read the new meaning in this way of naming yourselves, adding there a bit of mercy. Come on, dear jurisprudents, you ought to bow and scrape a little; anyway it’s what you can do better. Maybe the Bar Association headed by Professor Kutafin and Ustinov and others, and with the honorable member, whose name it’s difficult to dare to say, maybe all of them will send a request to the expected new President Medvedev not to change the restraint for the accused? He won’t escape anyway, and the judges are also humans, they also want to show they are humans and not only nominal servants of the law.