Russian legal expert to discuss the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky


By Rachel Brichta
Jan 09, 2012

Jeffrey Kahn

Jeffrey Kahn, associate professor of law at Southern Methodist University and a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, will give a lecture on Wednesday, January 18 at 12:00 PM in the CREES Noon Lecture series. Professor Kahn’s talk is titled, “The Second Conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev: Implications from the Khamovnichesky Court’s Verdict for Russia and the European Court of Human Rights.” Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the CEO of Russia’s lucrative Yukos Oil Company who leveraged his wealth and prestige to support political parties in Russia, especially liberal opposition to President Vladimir Putin. In 2003, Khodorkovsky and his business associate Platon Lebedev were arrested for fraud—charges widely viewed as fabricated in order to silence a political challenger and allow for a government takeover of Yukos. Both men have been in prison since 2003 and their perceived persecution will likely be a campaign issue in March Russian presidential election. Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets and Russian presidential candidate, announced that his first act if elected would be to release Khodorkovsky from prison. In response, Vladimir Putin told reporters, “One fisherman can spot another from far away. One oligarch will free another, there’s nothing strange here.”

Last April, President Medvedev’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights invited Professor Kahn to write a report on the case. The report was submitted to the Council in October and, along with the reports of experts from Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands, was presented to President Medvedev in December. Kahn will discuss the report and the implications of the Khodorkovsky case for the future of human rights and the rule of law in Russia. (Click here to view Kahn's report.)

Professor Jeffrey Kahn teaches and writes on American constitutional law, human rights, and counterterrorism. He joined the faculty at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in 2006, having previously worked for the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Kahn’s current research focuses on the right to travel and national security. His book on the U.S. Government’s No Fly List will be published by the University of Michigan Press in 2012. His first book, Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia, was published by Oxford University Press while he was a law student in 2002. During law school, he served as a lecturer on European human rights law at summer training programs for Russian lawyers sponsored by the Council of Europe.

PLACE: 1636 International Institute, 1080 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor

SPONSORS: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies

The University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies is dedicated to advancing and disseminating interdisciplinary knowledge about the peoples, nations, and cultures of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia, past and present. Through its own academic programs and its support of area-focused training and scholarship across U-M’s schools and colleges, CREES helps meet the nation’s ongoing need for experts with deep contextual knowledge who are proficient in the region’s languages. Through its outreach programs, CREES serves as a local, state, Midwest, and national resource on the region, providing instructional and informational services to the public, K-12 and postsecondary educators, media, government, business, and other constituencies. For more information, visit www.ii.umich.edu/crees.

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) combines academics with practical applications. The center promotes scholarship to better understand the conditions and policies that foster the transition from autocratic rule to democratic governance, past and present. It also educates new generations of practitioners who can apply their learning and experience to help extend democratic freedoms. Initially focusing on transitions in Europe and Eurasia, it will subsequently expand its scope to other emerging democracies across the globe. For more information, visit www.ii.umich.edu/wced.