#8 - JRL 7253
July 17, 2003
BUSINESS SECTOR ASKED TO "ENDURE"
Khodorkovsky falls victim to "petty political intrigues"
Putin will not stop the campaign that is damaging Russia's reputation abroad
Author: Andrei Denisov, Denis Rebrov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
AT HIS NOVO-OGAREVO RESIDENCE YESTERDAY, PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN RECEIVED ARKADY VOLSKY OF THE RUSSIAN UNION OF INDUSTRIALISTS AND ENTREPRENEURS. THEY DISCUSSED THE YUKOS OIL COMPANY. MEANWHILE, YUKOS CHIEF EXECUTIVE MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY RETURNED FROM A VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES.
At his Novo-Ogarevo residence yesterday, President Vladimir Putin received Arkady Volsky of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE). The conversation, during which Volsky was supposed to find out was the president really thought about the YUKOS affair, lasted about 40 minutes. The official press release made it plain that the public should not expect any positive changes in the matter of the oil company being harassed by all sorts of security structures (from this point of view, the fate of Platon Lebedev, who is still in the Lefortovo jail, doesn't really matter anymore).
Volsky told the Interfax news agency that the meeting was "productive and substantial", but dispelled hopes that the attacks on YUKOS would end. "More is involved here than specific individuals and companies. The matter concerns general rules of the game, on the confirmation of which the outcome of the process depends," Volsky said. To have the rules confirmed, Volsky asked the president "to take measures to put an end to the short-sighted campaign initiated by the forces that perceive stability in Russia as a threat to their very existence." Volsky said: "We repeat the words of the great Russian reformer Stolypin: They want great shake-ups, but we want a great Russia." Nothing is known at this point about what Putin's reply was, or if he promised "to take measures to put an end to the short-sighted campaign".
Mikhail Khodorkovsky of YUKOS returned yesterday from an informal meeting of business leaders in Sun Valley (the United States). When questioned by journalists at the airport, Khodorkovsky made several statements. Warning that the events centered around his company could increase capital flight from Russia, Khodorkovsky said: "The process is reversible, and we will do everything we can." In the United States, Khodorkovsky had tried to explain the situation in Russia to business leaders. "The situation is calm save for some developments initiated by petty political intrigues," he said. "All the rest is developing normally." Khodorkovsky meant that "certain structures are using the law to promote someone's personal interests". Khodorkovsky announced, however, that these forces of darkness were not omnipotent. "I will continue doing my job. Investors are jittery, but we are handling the situation," he said.
Khodorkovsky kept track of the latest developments even during his visit to the United States. "I was constantly updated on all the processes taking place in Russia. Nothing is changing. I hear that criminal proceedings were instigated on the basis of Sergei Bogdanchikov's statement [Rosneft president - Vremya Novostei]. Shame on him," Khodorkovsky said. He added that given the objectives being pursued by some heads of law enforcement agencies, "there may be a great many more criminal proceedings yet."
The prosecutor's office denies any new criminal proceedings against YUKOS on the basis of a complaint from Rosneft. Several days ago Rosneft accused YUKOS of having transferred a 19% stake in Yeniseineftegaz from Rosneft's accounts. Sources in the Prosecutor General's Office say that "there are no new criminal proceedings" but that is probably a matter of time only. "An investigator of the Prosecutor General's Office called for criminal proceedings but Senior Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri Biryukov demanded an additional investigation first." Even if Biryukov doesn't permit another criminal proceedings, the YUKOS company's problems are not over yet. Rinat Dosmukhamwedov, deputy minister for taxes and duties, said yesterday that the Prosecutor General's Office had requested materials from previous tax audits.