“I am guilty of compromising too much“ Last word of Alexei Ulyukaev
In the Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow, the case against the former Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev is coming to an end. In November 2016, he was detained while receiving a bribe from Igor Sechin, the head of the state company Rosneft. In the bag, which Ulyukaev picked up from the pile of snow, there was $ 2 million. The judicial investigation is completed as well as closing arguments. A verdict will be delivered on December 15. Today, the defendant sounded his closing statement in court. Russiangate transcripts his speech.
Honourable court, in my testimonies and closing arguments, I have said constantly that I’m not guilty of the charges against me. I categorically reject these charges, and I want to use my last word here to repeat that. The case materials don’t contain any evidence showing my involvement in the bribe. Moreover, the evidence unequivocally demonstrates that I’ve been the target of a brutal and cruel provocation.
During the oral hearing, I’ve addressed the oddities of the events that took place on November 14, 2016. However, the investigation itself is odd as well. It was a truly amazing investigation: first, the supposed victim transforms into a witness and then, after forfeiting this status, he becomes a phantom witness, who disappears altogether, vanishing somewhere in the vastness between Khanty-Mansiysk and Rome. The man simply dissolves into thin air. Like the budgetary effect of Rosneft’s purchase of Bashnet, only the smell of sulfur lingers. But who is this phantom witness? Perhaps he’s some kind of expert? An expert on foul-smelling deeds!
This is a case, in which the crime was reported not by the plaintiff, but on his behalf. By a person who heard a story about alleged threats and extortions. The case, in which the organizer of the so-called operational experiment – the junior operative officer disappears in long business trips, without giving any investigative evidence. Perhaps, it also exists only in the imagination of the public prosecutor. This is a case, where the key materials dissolve into thin air. Where a state prosecutor, who thinks it’s okay to treat similar circumstances as a staged bribe, but here, he doesn’t. Some end up in a prison for that, and for others it means a raise...
This case has aroused considerable public interest, not unlike a circus. An elderly gladiator at retirement age defends himself with a cardboard sword, and people sit back to watch the whole thing happily, all from their comfy seats, with their thumbs ready to decide his sentence. They ask, how do you find the trial? What is he facing? It was said long ago for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you. The bell could start tolling for any of the spectators.
Now, this is very easy. A bag, a basket, a poorly recorded video, three clicks and it’s done. Imagine a situation: you have a familiar state official who’s worn out his welcome. You invite him for a walk, and tell him to hold your briefcase, while you tie your shoes. And then the good guys pop out from the bushes. They grab the bureaucrat right there and send him off to the detention center. No man, no problem. However, opening the Pandora box is easy, but closing it will be much harder.
This is a case where the prosecution bases its accusations on weight measurements. On the fact that the bag is too heavy. What else can it contain if not money? This is right off the pages of Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf: “Keep on sawing, Shura! Keep sawing! There couldn’t be anything there but gold”. What else, in your opinion, can be in a heavy bag? Or does the prosecution believe that the defendant's glasses are equipped with special X-ray optics? And if the bag is brown, and the defendant for some reason does not remember this – this is precisely what proves his criminal intent. Vyshinsky is resting! (The state prosecutor in the trials against the highest functionaries of the Communist Party in 1936-1938, also was a prosecutor during the Great Terror. - Russiangate.)
What he could also do is present his portrait with the inscription “To the victorious student from the defeated teacher” to the state prosecutor. Defeated, indeed. At least, even for Vyshinsky, the confession of guilt was the queen of evidence, whereas here there is only a solid “could not but know, could not but understand”. This is an amazing criminal experience of reading mind. Not only at a distance, but also in time.
And here’s another question that’s already been raised: where did they get the cash that the prosecution laid out on a table in this courtroom? One of the men who’s framing me here, Feoktistov, said that some private investor gave him the two million dollars. So it was an investment! In other words, it was an investment to hand over two million dollars just like that, for an indefinite period of time and a zero interest rate.
Unlike similar cases with staged bribes, nobody here of course is interested in the true origins of this money. After all, doesn’t it indicate that Rosneft has some kind of slush fund and works off the books?
The charges are absurd, the evidence is the same, but every absurdity has its own system. And there’s a system here, too. Its cornerstones are the cruelty and lawlessness of those trying to frame me.
Now, we’re at the core of this case, which I already addressed in my testimony. Whom does it profit? The beneficiaries and participants of this monstrous provocation are obvious. All this needs to be investigated, and I’ve no doubt that, sooner or later, all of this will be investigated. I’m confident that these criminal acts will be judged accordingly. These provocateurs invested considerable effort and resources into framing an innocent person, entrapping him, and carrying out their reprisal.
Instead of properly investigating the case, the prosecutors rushed to package a dirty case inside a clean indictment. I hope and I believe that the court will rise above this veil of insinuations and lies, and it will defend the law and order that’s been trampled here. And I know it won’t allow a son to be taken from his old and ailing parents, or a father to be taken from his small children. My mother is 85, my father is 86, my son is 12, and my daughter is three.
Sixty-five years ago, speaking at a trial where he faced phony charges, Fidel Castro said history would absolve him. I can only repeat these prophetic words. Though the millstones of history grind slowly, they grind relentlessly and fine. I am sure this will be true here, as well.
On Monday, when I said that it was fun to listen to the state prosecutor, many people were surprised. Some may have even decided that I’d lost my mind due to all this stress. But my head is right where it’s always been, and it’s still serving me well.
I had only remembered something the once popular Marx said about humanity laughing as it parts with its past. Investigations and prosecutions like those under Vyshinsky are our past, of course. They’re our shameful past, and we’re saying goodbye to those times. It’s taking too long, but we’re saying goodbye.
I want to express my gratitude to my comrades who have supported me and my family throughout these difficult months. There aren’t many of you, but you’re out there. And I want to thank all the ordinary people I don’t know who, just on the street, when they see me on a walk, have come up and wished me luck, and given me encouragement or passed along their support through my relatives.
And finally I want to make an announcement that I confess to being guilty. Of course, I’m not guilty of the absurd accusations doggedly presented here by the state prosecutor, who could be put to far better use. It’s obvious that I had nothing to do with any threats, extortions, or bribes.
I’m guilty of something else. For many years, I was able to serve the citizens of Russia, and I tried to do my job as well as possible. And I’m not talking about the many awards and honorary titles I received, but the fact that I managed to achieve a thing or two for the welfare of the people. But, as we know, a job for your country that’s half-done isn’t done at all. What I achieved wasn’t enough. It was regrettably too little. I’m guilty of compromising too often, choosing the easy way out, and I all too often put my career and welfare ahead of my principles. Caught up in a senseless bureaucratic ring dance, I received certain gifts and I gave a few myself. I was trying to build relationships, and I was a hypocrite.
Only when you find yourself in trouble do you begin to understand how hard people actually have it, and grasp the injustice they face. When you’re living comfortably, you’re shamefully ignorant about human grief. Forgive me for this, people. I’m guilty before you.
I’ve changed my mind about a lot in the past year. Whatever my fate, I will dedicate the rest of my life to standing up for the interests of the people. I also want to ask my family and friends to forgive me for the pain and suffering I’ve unwittingly visited on them. Don’t lose hope. Tomorrow is another day.
Well. As Socrates said in a similar situation: “The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways: I to die, and you to live. Which is better nobody knows.” Of course, a lot has changed since Socrates’ day, and the times today are far less bloodthirsty. Nevertheless, 10 years in prison for a man of 62 doesn’t differ much from a death sentence.
And finally, to finish on a lighter note, I want to wish everyone a happy New Year’s, and a happy holidays, and all the best.
Be well and live long, thank you.