“It’s unjust to blame Russia for jailing those who have stolen billions” – Putin

During his official visit to France, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not only discussed some business issues, but also touched upon the high-profile cases of Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky.

“It is unjust to blame Russia for jailing people who have stolen billions of dollars,” said Putin, while answering journalists’ questions about respect for human rights in Russia.

When he was questioned about the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky he said:

“Mr. Madoff received a life sentence. And nobody even sneezed about that. Everyone said – he deserved it. Now the UK is considering the extradition of a hacker who caused just a million dollars in damage. In the US he is facing up to 60 years in prison. Why are you not asking about him? And some people in Russia that you have mentioned stole billions of dollars! And there are proven murder attempts during their so-called business activities. In the thirties, Al Capone was tried for tax evasion. And he was sentenced within the law. What we are doing is also done within the law.”

The prime minister marked that all the judicial trials are in accord with the present legal system in the country:

“All that is happening is happening in terms of present lawmaking in the Russian Federation. Of course, we will always be watching the government, especially law-enforcement agencies, to be on the right side of the law.”

Vladimir Putin refused to comment on Sergey Magnitsky – the Hermitage Capital Investment tax adviser who died in prison – as he said he did not know all the details of the case, but said it was a tragedy. He said that it does not matter what a person has done – his life, health should always be under the government’s care.