Published On: Sun, Jun 21st, 2015

Mikhail Khodorkovsky Duns Russia For $50 billion Awarded By Arbitration Court

At its peak Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia and his empire, which included the now dismantled oil company Yukos, produced more crude oil than the state of Qatar before.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky Holds First Press Conference Since Prison Release

As if the troubles in Ukraine, European and US personal financial sanctions against powerful members of the Russian elite, and NATO exercises in the Baltic were not enough, now Belgium has hit the Kremlin with a blow to the solar plexus where it really hurts – it is trying to seize some of Russia’s state assets.

Moscow was left threatening a tit-for-tat response against state-linked foreign firms operating in Russia after some of its official assets in Western Europe were frozen over legal claims by former Yukos oil company shareholders.

Russian officials said state accounts had been frozen in Belgium, and representatives of claimants from the defunct oil firm indicated certain Russian assets have also been blocked in France.

In 2003 the Kremlin arrested then Yukos oil company owner and prominent Kremlin political critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and released him ten years later. When he arrived in Germany, before starting his exile in Switzerland, he said he did not even know how much money he had left as so much of his fortune  had been expropriated by the Russian government.

Khodovorsky and other former Yukos shareholders have been trying to collect on the record $50 billion awarded to them last year by an arbitration court for the way Russia had seized and dismantled the company

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed that “Russia does not recognize the authority of this court” and has promised to defend against the seizures.

By coincidence, last week Mikhail Khodorkovsky was himself speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank, where he continued to oppose the state of affairs in Russia.

There he claimed, “The current confrontation with the West is absolutely artificial, “adding “The cooling of relations has been inspired by those Russian elites who want to hold on to power.”

He then pointed out, “They desperately need an image of an enemy who would distract the attention of the populace from the corruption and inefficiency that exists in the power elites.”

At its peak Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia and his empire, which included the now dismantled oil company Yukos, produced more crude oil than the state of Qatar before. When he publicly opposed Putin’s increasing moves to authoritarianism he was jailed for fraud and tax evasion. Putin finally pardoned him only ten years later, in December 2013.

Today Khodorkovsky lives in splendid exile Switzerland, a country that has hosted many generations of Russian emigrés, including one Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, otherwise known as Lenin.

 

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