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Mercury was snuck into lawyer's car
Written by Газета «Коммерсантъ» № 187(4004) от 15.10.2008   
Среда, 15 Октябрь 2008
Mikhail Khodorkovsky's attorney poisoned in Strasbourg
Подброшенная ртуть, по данным полиции, адвокату Москаленко не навредила

The Division of Criminal Investigation for the Strasbourg judicial police has begun tests after the discovery of mercury in a car belonging to the family of the famous Russian lawyer Karina Moskalenko. Mrs. Moskalenko herself links the incident to her professional activities, particularly with the scheduled hearings today on the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
«For the past four days I have felt ill, with dizziness, nausea and headache,» Karina Moskalenko, who lives with her family in Strasbourg, told Kommersant.
Karina Akopovna Moskalenko was born in Baku on February 9th, 1954. In 1976 she graduated from law school at Leningrad University. Since 1997 she has been a member of the Moscow City Bar Association, and in the same year she founded the Center for International Protection, which in 1999 received status as the Russian branch of the International Commission of Jurists. In 1998 she won the right to represent the interests of Russians at the Committee on Human Rights. In 2000 she gained the release of five Russian pilots arrested in India in 1995 on weapons smuggling charges. In 2001 she became the first lawyer to speak at the European Court of Human Rights. She represented the interests of the banker Valery Kalashnikov, who won a case against Russia. Since 2003 she has been Mikhail Khodorkovsky's lawyer. Since 2007 she represents the interests of the family of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and since 2008, Moldavian journalist Natalya Morar.
The attorney’s husband and three children experienced similar health problems. On Sunday, the source was revealed. On that day Ms. Moskalenko's husband Yevgeny decided to clean the interior of their personal vehicle. Under the front seat of the Peugeot, he discovered a lot of small silver balls. Being a chemist by profession, he immediately realized that it was mercury, the vapors of which the couple and their children had been breathing for days.
Police arrived at the scene, collected the substance, and sent it in for examination. Yesterday, at the urging of investigators, Mrs. Moskalenko and her family underwent medical exams, and afterwards questioned the Russian lawyer as a victim.
«They asked me if I had any guess as to who and where someone could have tucked this stuff in the car,» said Karina Moskalenko. «I was informed that a criminal case has been opened, but I don't know under which article, since I'm unfamiliar with the French criminal code.» According to the lawyer, attackers could have poured the mercury-like substance into her car without any problem. The Peugeot, which Karina Moskalenko's husband drives (she does not drive), at night is parked on the street near the house, and during the day by her office.
The attorney associates this act with her professional activities, including participation in the case of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered. «Tomorrow (ed: October 15th) I should be at a military court for a preliminary hearing of the case, but now it's unlikely that I'll fly to Moscow,» Karina Moskalenko told Kommersant. Another lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, Anna Stavitskaya, told Kommersant that, because of this, representatives of victims would move for an adjournment of the hearing.
Attorney Murad Musaev, who represents Jabrail Makhmudov, one of the accused in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya (there are a total of three), told Kommersant that he could not even guess who could have poisoned his colleague. «In my opinion, neither we, nor the victims, nor the prosecution have any reason to delay the start of the case. But, if Karina Moskalenko doesn't rule out that this incident was connected with this case, then she probably has her reasons. I don't think she would make baseless statements,» said Mr. Musaev. He also said that he would not object if the victims' representatives asked for a postponement of the hearing. Today's hearing was to address procedural and organizational matters, chief among which is whether the case is to be held in open or closed court.
Christian Reed, chief of criminal investigations for the Strasbourg judicial police, gave an accounting to Kommersant on the first results of the investigation: «All I can tell you is that Mrs. Moskalenko filed a statement with the police in Strasbourg on the occasion of finding a possible poison in her car, a small amount of a substance similar to mercury. This was followed by chemical tests that confirm the presence of a substance similar to mercury. Mrs. Moskalenko and her family have been tested. They were not injured, and they feel fine. The police, under direction of the Strasbourg prosecutor's office, are investigating the incident. According to French law, the case can only be filed in court after the investigation is complete and suspects are detained and interviewed. The police have made no arrests at this time.»
In Kommersant.

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