On December 27th, PBS News Hour correspondent Jeffrey Brown interviewed Dr. Anna Vassilieva, head of the Russian Studies Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The subject of their interview was the justice system, rule of law and politics in Russia, currently in the spotlight because of the latest conviction of the former oil tycoon and billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The conviction drew widespread criticism from foreign diplomats and leaders such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The White House issued a statement declaring that “the failure to follow the rule of law impedes Russian ties with the U.S.”
Professor Vassilieva noted that the verdict was in reality announced by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, when he said in a television interview that Khodorkovsky belonged in jail. “The power belongs to someone who exercises strength, not justice, not pardon, as we were hoping,” said Vassilieva, adding that Putin is by far the most trusted politician in Russia, currently enjoying very high popularity ratings.