ALEXANDER GOLOVENKO: PUBLIC ASSESSORS' EYES WERE EXPRESSING HORROR

"There is no God," Tamara Rokhlina said at 9:35 a.m. yesterday when she was leaving her apartment for the court, which will sentence her to a fantastically monstrous eight-year term of imprisonment. "I knew it would be so," the Rokhlins' friend from Volgograd Svetlana Vinogradova almost shouted after the process. And having calmed down a bit, she added: "Secretly from Tamara Pavlovna I prepared a whole bag for her: foods, linen, medicines without which she can not live. It seems to me she had a presentiment about everything, as it was the second night that we stayed awake: calls, threats, pieces of advice to ponder upon before saying something in the final speech. Replying to my puzzled question whether it was too early to begin to pack the bag, Svetlana Ivanovna (a witness for the defence) said: "Don't you realise what kind of country we are living in? She stayed in jail for a year and a half for nothing, was put on trial for nothing and will be sentenced to imprisonment for nothing. It will be the way they, there at the top, will decree it." "And I still cherished a faint hope that Mum would be acquitted or that they, at least, would submit the case to further inquiry," said Elena Rokhlina. "We were prepared for everything but not for the court to commit such a brutality…" Everything was clear even before this most absurd sentence was read out. The judge Zhilina and the assessors Mikhailova and Ivanova entered the courtroom followed by two handsome guards who adopted a well-familiar pose: their heels together, toes apart, hands behind their backs. Do you recollect it? It was getting clear that Tamara Pavlovna would be taken into custody right in the courtroom. Everybody listened to the sentence standing: Rokhlin's friends, relations and acquaintances, pressmen and TV reporters. And as Ms. Zhilina progressed with the text, it was getting increasingly clearer what she was driving at. The prosecution's accusatory passages were accepted without examination and a shadow of doubt. To be more exact, contrary to presumption of innocence, all doubts were interpreted in favour of the prosecution, whereas the arguments of the accused, defence counsellors and witnesses for the defence were turned down without any motivation just for the reason of not being trustworthy. I saw the face of general Rokhlin's widow getting darker and unnatural and the faces of the public assessors become indifferent and stone-like. No, their eyes were, probably, expressing horror at justice being violated with their involvement. During month-long court discussions, these two women did not ask Tamara Pavlovna a single question. Day after day they gazed vacantly at the participants in the process, as if wondering what about and what for they argue there? Isn't theirs a silent evidence that everything was already decided in advance? And then Tamara Pavlovna, having learned that in April the Chief Prosecutor's Office submitted her case to the Naro-Fominsk court, exclaimed: "This is my guillotine. My Lev's traitors and enemies keep everything under control there." There was, you remember, a hope for trial by jury, but, submitting the materials to the "execution place", Deputy Chief Prosecutor V.Kolmogorov changed the counts of indictment in such a way (removed the "death penalty") that the need for jury trial, as it were, disappeared. Tamara Pavlovna was tried by a "team of three". Just to remind you, while staying at large for ten months and a half, she did not even admit the thought of escaping from trial and went there, overcoming her ailments, as if to work. So much was she anxious to get thorough this fret as soon as possible… It is difficult to retell the content of the sentence. But it deserves to be included in law books, however, not as a highest model of meticulous investigation standards, but as a flagrant example of court arbitrariness. It appears that Lev Yakovlevich did not challenge Yeltsin and that there was no fretful threat in response: "We'll wipe out these Rokhlins!". As it turns out, he was not an irreconcilable fighter against corruption and did not prepare a peaceful action by dozens of thousands of officers to remove the head of the anti-popular regime from power. Yes, his countryside cottage was under watch; but the judge decided for the deceased: if he had treated the threat to the life seriously, he would have turned to some authorities for protection. To whom? To Yeltsin, may be? But if he did not ask any authorities for protection, it means there was no serious threat. But he talked straight about the coming violence against him at a press conference, and the judge has seen the video recording! Or else, what was the reason for him to constantly have two bodyguards next to him!?

The sentence shocked everybody in the room. For some time all stayed motionless in a dead silence. Then there was a click of cameras… "It is lawlessness," the "convict" uttered in a low voice. "I did not kill my Lev." And, while urged by the handsome guards, she began to get medicines, cigarettes, a lighter from her bag... In five minutes they took her into a custodial vehicle and carried away to the district office of the Ministry of Interior to subsequently transport her to the investigation isolation ward in Mozhaisk.