As part of IMR's AIDS and tuberculosis advocacy project, we present a tribute page for lawyer Vasily Aleksanyan, formerly the head of the Yukos legal department and briefly the company's executive vice president. Aleksanyan died from AIDS-related tuberculosis and lymphoma in 2011. Our tribute page includes the harrowing video of Aleksanyan's last interview with leading Russian newspaper "Kommersant" and the English transcript of his few but impactful words. On July 23rd, at the XIX International AIDS Conference of 2012 in Washington, DC, IMR presented Misha Friedman's photography exhibition and conducted a panel discussion on HIV / AIDS and TB in Russia, in order to continue raising international awareness of the worsening epidemic. On Wednesday, August 1st we will publish a summary account of our exhibition and panel discussion by IMR Director, Lidiya Dukhovich.
Vasily Aleksanyan, a Harvard graduate and a Yukos lawyer, appointed executive vice-president of the company on March 30th, 2006, was arrested with just one week from his appointment. Accused of money laundering and embezzlement, the young lawyer was thrown into a Moscow prison, tortured, and denied medical treatment by authorities who sought to pressure him into providing false testimony against Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Aleksanyan's case became a cause of heightened concern after a prosecutor revealed that he had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
Aleksanyan accused authorities of denying him proper medical attention as a punishment for not "cooperating" by testifying against Yukos executives. Finally transferred to a hospital in February 2008, after four requests made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Aleksanyan remained under arrest while receiving treatment for HIV, and for the lymphatic cancer that he developed in detention while being refused anti-retroviral treatment. According to Akeksanyan's lawyer Elena Lvova, the ECtHR emphasized that if their verdict was not carried out and Aleksanyan was to die in prison, "the actions of the Russian government would be tantamount to torture."
On December 30, 2008, almost a year after the ECtHR ruling in his favor, Aleksanyan was released after posting $1.8 million bail, an unprecedented amount in Russia. The case against him was finally dropped in June 2010. Vassily Alexanyan passed away on October 3, 2011.