Russian Olympic Athlete “Smiling All the Time” After Murder Conviction

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This blog might be said to gripe about the U.S. legal system and those involved in it, and the situation in this country sometimes does look pretty awful — except by comparison to most of the rest of the world.  A story this week from Russia was a reminder, I think, that having a scandal about a lawsuit over a judge’s missing pants is something that other countries can only dream of.

Alexander Tikhonov, a 60-year-old former Olympic athlete who won four gold medals in the biathlon (shooting and skiing), was found guilty last month of conspiring to murder the governor of a Siberian province.  On Wednesday, Reuters reported that not only was Tikhonov not going to jail, his life has continued normally.  "Nothing has changed at all," he told a news conference.  "I’m working as usual and don’t have any problems [such as being in jail for the attempted murder of which I was convicted]."  The 13-time world champion and one-time convicted murder-for-hire guy continued, "I am smiling all the time."  According to the report, he then grinned.

After his conviction, Tikhonov was actually sentenced to three years in prison, which seems a little light to begin with, but then was immediately given amnesty "to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany."  Seems like a good reason to celebrate, even if that particular anniversary was seven years ago.  (I think this also explains what happened with Scooter Libby.)

In fact, Tikhonov was only back in Russia at all because he was feeling better after an extended stay in Europe that began shortly after his arrest.  After the conspirators were arrested in 2000, the report said, "Tikhonov left custody after a month because he said he felt unwell."  (I think this also explains what happened with Paris Hilton.)  After "leaving custody," he departed for Europe to see a "specialist," and did not return for several years.

His brother, who does not appear to have been a popular athlete, has served four years in prison for the same crime.

Link: Reuters via Yahoo! News