Tuesday, May 31, 2005

This Is Not Another Enron: Yukos and Khodorkovsky

This story is deep and dark and there's still a lot we haven't heard about what really happened with Yukos and Khodorkovsky. We'll hear more about it. Where there's oil, there's always dirt.
"Not one normal sane person would understand what has been read out here," said Lebedev.

Outside the heavily-guarded court, the defendants' supporters shouted "Shame!."

The verdict produced a gasp from female relatives of Khodorkovsky, one exclaiming: "How could you do that to a person?."

They were both sentenced to a prison camp where inmates live in barracks with relative freedom to move around within the grounds of the jail.

If the sentence stirs unease in the West, Khodorkovsky's plight is unlikely to elicit much support from ordinary Russians.

They mostly view the hugely wealthy, and usually very young, oligarchs like Khodorkovsky who emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union as little more than thieves of state wealth who left them even worse off than under communist rule.

Khodorkovsky has spent nearly 20 months in jail and Lebedev almost two years, time which will be taken off their sentences.

The billionaire, once Russia's richest man and founder of the YUKOS oil company, and Lebedev had faced charges including fraud, theft and tax evasion.

The company has since been crushed under the weight of back tax claims and its core assets passed into state hands.

"(We) see this sentence as an incredible perversion of justice...this system not only readily fulfilled the order to destroy Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but, it seems, wants to ruin YUKOS itself," YUKOS said in a statement.

-- Reuters