Kremlin knocks out Khodorkovsky again
Ahead of the start of 2011 investors were given a timely reminder of the dangers faced by businesspeople who fall foul of the Kremlin, with the conclusion of a second court case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky – once the richest man in Russia but now its most famous prison inmate.
In the latest criminal proceedings, former oil company owner Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement at now defunct oil firm Yukos, which was seized by the Russian authorities six years ago on the basis of tax evasion charges against Khodorkovsky, who was sent to prison in 2005.
At the time Yukos maintained that it was the victim of a concerted political campaign by a government that wanted to discredit its executives and gain control of vital energy assets.
Khodorkovsky’s supporters have claimed that the trial was politically motivated punishment from the Kremlin in response to his financing of pro-western opposition political parties.
International investors were left nursing big losses after the collapse of Yukos, once Russia’s biggest privately owned oil company, which was declared bankrupt in 2006 after being hit with a bill for $27 billion in back taxes.