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Gergiev ex-aide ‘held in jail for a year without trial’

We reported in December 2011 that Igor Zotov, former director of the Valery Gergiev Foundation and the White Nights Festival, had been arrested for an $8 million theft. A statement by the Gergiev Foundation amplified the allegations. Since then, the case has gone quiet.

Lawyers for Zotov have posted a message in his name online, saying he denies theft and fraud. He has been held for  more than a year without trial. His health has collapsed and his wife has been threatened by unnamed persons. Zotov, in the message posted by his lawyers, accuses Valery Gergiev of seeking ‘to extend his detention’. No date has been set for the trial.

In the lawless state of Russia, detention without trial is commonplace. The message – posted here in Russian (with Google translate) – is only one side of the story. It is very much to be hoped that a fair and open trial will be held soon.


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  1. The US criminal justice system has its flaws. Consider the case of Alberto Vilar, who ran a successful investment company for more than two decades before his arrest in 2005 on fraud charges. “Hundreds of millions of dollars” of investor funds might be missing,” the prosecutor told the public at the time. They shut down the company and leaned on banks to freeze all company and private assets. Vilar spent six weeks in a Manhattan dungeon before friends raised enough bail money to get him out. For the next two years, he was under strict house arrest. He wore an electronic ankle bracelet and was allowed to leave his apartment no more than three hours per week. Under the US constitution, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury. Americans also are entitled to a speedy trial. Vilar’s nearly eight-week long trial began in October 2007, 2-1/2 years after his arrest. Based on the government’s evidence, a jury found him guilty on all 12 counts. In February 2008, the judge sentenced him to nine years in prison. By November 2012 when an appeals court ordered his release on bail, he had served about four years in three different prisons. The jury never learned that more than enough money was left in company-controlled accounts to make all so-called victims whole. That not so unimportant detail came out during the sentencing hearing, long after the jury had been dismissed. There are other problems for the appeals court to consider. A ruling could come down any time. Victory is by no means assured. Appeals courts go by the record established during trial, no matter how spotty it may be, and they do not like to overturn jury verdicts. But Vilar’s lawyers are hopeful. They see his release on bail and the light bail terms ordered by the appeals court as positive signs. Meanwhile, Alberto Vilar is staying at a friend’s house, reading books and going to movie theatres for HD video opera transmissions. He cannot afford live performances at the Metropolitan Opera of New York that he once so generously supported.

  2. neil van der linden says:

    Yes and what about Bradley Manning. Or Sami Al Arian?
    Not that Russia in principle isnt more lawless than the US. That is why it is Russia.

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