|Contradiction is inherent in the corruption and tax evasion charges that landed, and have kept, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of Yukos, behind bars in Siberia.|
A British capitalist who was an early partner to Khodorkovsky and his generation of young post-Soviet capitalists relays a telling anecdote in the film: The upstart Soviet capitalists rented a room in Moscow's fanciest hotel for their first meeting with him because they were too embarrassed to hold the meeting in their shabby bank offices.It was shortly after Khodorkovsky held meetings with officials from Exxon Mobil and Chevron ( CVX) about potential ventures -- long after he had built Yukos into a giant -- that the government had him arrested. It's interesting to note that Rosneft -- which is run by Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, and took control of Yukos after Khodorkovsky's arrest -- at the end of this past summer announced a joint venture with Exxon Mobil. Long before that deal was announced, Rosneft head and Russian deputy prime minister Sechin and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson were captured by news cameras hugging each other at the G20 meeting last January. As for the political power brokers, the film shows all the right words being spoken by President Bush -- who sent personal greeting cards to Khodorkovsky -- and by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. TheStreet detailed in an article last year all the right words spoken by Secretary of State Clinton when Khodorkovsky's jail term was extended, when she said the verdict would have a "negative impact on Russia's reputation," would raise questions about the "investment climate" in Russia and that it raised "serious questions about selective prosecution -- and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations." We're still waiting for any sign that any of those words really meant anything in terms of U.S. policy toward Russia apposite the deal between Rosneft and Exxon. The most honest words spoken by a politician in the film come courtesy of former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, who provides telling examples of how the political power brokers really dealt with the Khodorkovsky case. Fischer recalls one meeting on a yacht between former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Putin. Schroeder was concerned about what seemed like insurmountable legal obstacles to putting Yukos under the control of Rosneft, and Putin was as giddy as a schoolboy listening to the German concerns, and told the German chancellor to just wait and see.
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