An oligarch's last stand - Macleans.ca
 

An oligarch’s last stand

The case against Khodorkovsky is now widely seen as a response to his financial support of political parties that oppose the Kremlin


 

An oligarch's last stand

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once one of the richest men in Russia, has found out what the consequences of crossing the Kremlin can be. The businessman, who made his fortune as an oil tycoon, was first arrested at gunpoint for tax evasion in 2003. Two years later, he was convicted. In 2005, state prosecutors brought new charges against him: they alleged he stole $25 billion of the very oil he was accused of underpaying taxes on. If Khodorkovsky is found guilty on these second charges in mid-December, when a verdict is due to be released, he’ll remain in prison for six more years—after his current sentence ends in 2011.

The case against Khodorkovsky is now widely seen as a response to his financial support of political parties that oppose the Kremlin. This current trial, analysts believe, is a ploy to keep him in jail until after the 2012 elections, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to take another run at the presidency. Until then, from behind a glass cage in a packed Moscow courtroom, he’s made no secret of his views on Russian justice. His arrest, he noted, was a display of the Kremlin’s power above the law. But, “so far, they have achieved the opposite: they turned us, ordinary people, into symbols of a struggle against lawlessness.”


 

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