Vladimir Putin on trial in Moscow — an almost unimaginable idea in the context of today’s Russia. Yet the precedent, albeit in a somewhat farcical way, was set earlier this week as a Russian court — for the first time in Mr. Putin’s eleven-year rule — admitted and heard a case with the Russian leader acting as a defendant.
On December 16, 2010, during a live televised question-and-answer session, Mr. Putin accused opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and Vladimir Milov of stealing money from the state. “What do Nemtsov, Ryzhkov, Milov, and others really want?”, the prime minister read from a viewer’s question, before asserting: “Money and power, what else do they want?! In their day they wrought havoc, in the ’90s, they stole quite a few billion along with the Berezovskys and others who are now in prison.”