Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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Khodorkovsky on December 22, 2013 after his release from prison

Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky (born 26 June 1963) is a Russian businessman. In 2005 he was put in prison for not paying taxes.[1] On 20 December 2013 Putin let him out of prison. He lives in Germany, but he may move back to Russia if he wishes. Khodorkovsky would have been released in August 2014.

Early life[change | change source]

Khodorkovsky was born in Moscow to a Jewish father and Russian mother. He went to the Mendeleev Chemistry and Technology Institute.

Once the richest man in Russia[change | change source]

In 2003, Khodorkovsky was named Person of the Year by Expert, sharing this title with Roman Abramovich and, in 2004, Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia and one of the richest people in the world, ranked 16th on Forbes list of billionaires.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Khodorkovsky accumulated wealth by developing Siberian oil fields. He was the head of Yukos, one of the largest Russian companies to emerge from the privatization of state assets in the 1990s.

He was arrested on 25 October 2003. The government under Vladimir Putin then froze shares of Yukos shortly thereafter on tax charges. The state took further actions against Yukos, leading to a collapse of the company's share price. This destroyed most of Khodorkovsky's wealth. He was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison in May 2005. While still serving his sentence, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were further charged and found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in December 2010, extending his prison sentence to 2014.

Khodorkovsky was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin following lobbying for his release by Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and released from jail on 20 December 2013.[2]

Trial[change | change source]

There is widespread concern internationally that the trials and sentencing were politically motivated.[3][4] During Putin's presidency, it became clear that many state assets had been sold far below their true value. This was shown as soon as shares became available on the open market. The conspiracy theory is that, wanting to recapture Yukos for the state, a way was sought to put an end to Khodorovsky's control.

There was a confrontation between state auditors and Yukos auditors as to the extent of Yukos' profits. It was claimed for Yukos that a large part of the profits were covered by investments in plant (pipelines, etc.), and exploration. The upshot was that Khodorovsky was charged with tax evasion.

The trial process was criticised abroad for its lack of due process. Khodorkovsky lodged several applications to the European Court of Human Rights. In response to his first application, which concerned events from 2003 to 2005, the court found that several violations were committed by the Russian authorities in their treatment of Khodorkovsky.[5] In particular, the court ruled that Khodorkovsky's arrest was "unlawful as it had been made with a purpose different from the one expressed."[6] Despite these findings, the court ultimately ruled that the trial was not politically motivated,[7][8][9] but rather "that the charges against him were grounded in 'reasonable suspicion'".[8]

References[change | change source]

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10527953/Mikhail-Khodorkovsky-profile.html
  2. Erklärung von Chodorkowski: "Mein besonderer Dank gilt Hans-Dietrich Genscher", Der Spiegel.
  3. Parfitt, Tom (27 December 2010). "WikiLeaks: rule of law in Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial merely 'gloss'". The Guardian (UK). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/27/wikileaks-russia-mikhail-khodorkovsky-trial. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  4. "Russian businessmen declared prisoners of conscience after convictions are upheld". Amnesty International. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  5. European Court Rules That Khodorkovsky's Rights Were Violated Radio Free Europe 31 May 2011.
  6. Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovskiy's detention in breach of the Convention' European Court of Human Rights press release 31 May 2011
  7. O'Flynn, Kevin (31 May 2011). "Mikhail Khodorkovsky 'not a political prisoner', Human Rights court rules". The Telegraph (UK). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8547862/Mikhail-Khodorkovsky-not-a-political-prisoner-Human-Rights-court-rules.html. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Mikhail Khodorkovsky case: European Court faults Russia". BBC (UK). 31 May 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13600198. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  9. "Russia's trial of oil magnate Khodorkovsky not political, court rules". Guardian (UK). 31 May 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/31/khodorkovsky-trial-not-political-european-court. Retrieved 29 April 2013.