Last Friday a program called “Anatomy of protest – 2” was aired on the Russian government TV channel, NTV. The program suggests that I am giving, or have offered, financial support for a Russian political opposition movement to seek a change of government using unlawful and undemocratic means. The allegation is untrue: I have never advocated or believed in the use of unlawful or undemocratic methods for pursuing political change. The absurd suggestion that the opposition and its sponsors intend to seize power by force in Russia serves the interests of the government that owns NTV and pays its employees.
Immediately after the story went on air, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee of Russia took their cue and started to check the claimed facts. There is a long and well-documented record of Russian law enforcement agencies launching intensive campaigns to discredit the active opposition. These manipulate public opinion and are ideal contexts in which to create criminal accusations against Russian citizens who are out of favour with the authorities.
The real exposé made by this NTV program is that it reveals the government’s persecution of me and my Bank of Moscow colleagues. The Bank of Moscow was seized in 2011 for improper reasons, two obvious ones being: to remove a large independent financial institution able to provide support to potential political opponents, and to engineer fabulous state aid for VTB. The destruction of the Bank of Moscow was nothing more than the annihilation of a political and economic competitor.
The persecution method, as is usual, was a criminal case: the so-called “Premier Estate” case. It was the cover for lawless chaos around me and my colleagues, and resulted in the expropriation of the Bank of Moscow and a number of quality assets. It has virtually fallen apart, neither investigators nor the court being able to advance any sensible arguments for its continuation. So, according to my information, new criminal cases are being prepared against the same defendants in Russia, and state agencies are working on the search and seizure of my assets around the world.
This is the reality in which the government’s NTV channel now increases my ‘public enemy’ status by sending a message to the people of Russia that I finance terrorism.
NTV’s allegation against me is baseless in truth, yet strongly advances the government’s interests and does so at a critical time in the government’s campaign against me. It therefore reveals my persecution and that a real reason for the unending judicial pressure on me, including the involvement of the authorities in other jurisdictions, is the Russian authorities’ resolve to deny me any kind of participation in the political life of Russia.
I have not committed any of the illegal acts ascribed to me by the state agencies of the Russian Federation, whether in the economic or political sphere. And I will continue to defend my right to an objective and fair investigation of claims against me, as well as my right to any legitimate form of expression of my political views.