Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Pardoning of Mikhail Khodorkovsky - A Bizarre Twist

Putin's pardoning of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, is creating a huge amount of speculation. The fate of Putin's (former?) friend from his time in Leningrad, Igor Sechin, is an interesting "sideshow" in this affair:

In another bizarre twist, just after the prison service statement came out, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling Putin in a meeting that the state-owned oil giant would be willing to give Khodorkovsky a job but that "all top-manager posts are currently filled."
Rosneft acquired most of the assets of Khodorkovsky's oil company Yukos after it was liquidated and sold off in pieces upon Khodorkovsky's arrest in 2003.

This bizarre twist is even more bizarre when we consider Sechin's background as the figurehead of the Siloviki, the network of current and former security service officers who run Russia's intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies and his role in the Yukos affair:

Their figurehead since Putin's arrival in the Kremlin in 2000 has been Igor Sechin, a long-time close Putin ally from St. Petersburg. Sechin managed to transfer a majority of the assets of Khodorkovsky's defunct Yukos oil empire to Rosneft, the government-owned oil company of which he is chairman.
Sechin has always insisted that the Yukos affair was not only "about tax offenses, but also serious capital crimes like murder, torture and blackmail." Such charges were intended to put Khodorkovsky behind bars for many more long years. Now it appears that Sechin's influence is waning.

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