The US media is reporting critically on the conviction yesterday in Moscow of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.  Khodorovsky had earlier been convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2005 and has been in jail ever since.  The conviction prompted commentary from no less than Hillary Clinton who said it “raises serious questions about selective prosecution” while the White House saw “…due process violations and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends.”

First off, where does the Bush/Obama US get the right to criticize a trial in any country?  Guantanamo, Patriot Act, Military Commissions, and state secrets privilege come to mind immediately.  Obama and Clinton should be apologizing for what we do…

What this is really all about is the hidden message, conveyed by Clinton’s reference to selective.  Khodorovsky is Jewish, as are most of the oligarchs who stripped Russia of its wealth in the 1990s, and he has his own claque of supporters who regard his conviction as anti-Semitism. 

The fact is that anyone who has looked into the looting of Russia knows very well that Khodorovsky is guilty as hell on all charges.  That he was accused of stealing and exporting $27 billion from Yukos, the company he controlled, is no doubt an exaggeration but he clearly did make off with at least $15 billion.  The oligarchs also engaged in assassination and other niceties that their friends tend to overlook.  Nearly all of the first generation oligarchs have fled Russia in the past few years as Putin has cracked down on them with widespread popular approval.  Most live in Western Europe, where they seem to have a thing for buying soccer teams, and also in Israel.