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BBC Monitoring
Putin's entourage said behind attack on Russian oil major
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0350 gmt 20 Jul 03

A mounting campaign against the Yukos oil major has nothing to do with its head Mikhail Khodorkovskiy financing opposition political parties, Pavel Felgengauer, an independent political observer, has said. He claims that the real target is the oil riches of Yukos that the St Petersburg security officers now in power in the Kremlin, whom he dubbed the Family-2, want to appropriate. The following is the text of the commentary broadcast by Russian Ekho Moskvy radio on 20 July:

The attack on the Yukos oil major has been under way for three weeks already and no end is in sight. Initially, many believed that the oligarch and the authorities would reach some sort of an agreement, that [head of Menatep bank and a major Yukos shareholder] Platon Lebedev would be released in exchange for a promise on behalf of [Yukos head] Mikhail Khodorkovskiy, say, not to get involved in politics any more, not to finance political parties in opposition to the Kremlin, etc. It is clear now that this was not the case.

All more or less influential forces in Russia, without exception, are constantly lobbying for something, buying up officials and deputies, and plotting against each other. Khodorkovskiy was obviously chosen for something different.

Khodorkovskiy recently was actively trying to quit being an old-time oligarch. He was busy introducing a Western style of management, increasing the production of crude oil and searching for new markets in the West and the East, was cutting production expenses and making his company transparent. In 2002, Yukos paid over 4bn dollars in dues and taxes to the federal budget.

At the same time, Khodorkovskiy was spending considerable amounts of money in Russia to promote close relations with the West, and the USA in the first place. The politically naive oligarch seemed to believe that in an attempt to integrate his own business - and Russia as well - with the West he was aiming in the same direction as President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, in the Kremlin certain infighting was under way between the more pro-Western faction consisting mainly of the old Boris Yeltsin's Family and the new Putin's Family-2 of former KGB officers. Khodorkovskiy, as the most pro-Western and the richest of all the oligarchs remaining in Russia, became the major target of the KGB patriots in this war.

Of course, the main target was - and remains - the oil riches of Yukos. While Putin's Family-2 enjoys a lot of political power nowadays with the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office and the Federal Security Service [FSB] being at its full disposal, it still does not have enough money. In present-day Russian conditions, there is no other way to get it but to seize from the others what had been looted before.

In such a situation, pinning hopes on Putin not being aware of it, on him being the hostage of the situation who is not able to control his own Family-2 makes no sense. Putin came out of the KGB, grew up in the team of St Petersburg mayor Anatoliy Sobchak, and got additional training in the Kremlin provided by Pavel Borodin [a former Kremlin property manager]. A person with such roots needs no explanations regarding where the butter on the bread is. He will find it himself. He has everything under control and well-calculated.

Our people are poor and do not like the rich, especially the Jews. They will only be glad to see Khodorkovskiy's downfall.

The underpaid middle-rank officers from special services and the army will have a new ray of hope. Look, Putin will take the money from the oligarchs and will give it to the military to buy new tanks and missiles, to revive the state. Fat chance, indeed. As was the case with [media moguls Vladimir] Gusinskiy and [Boris] Berezovskiy, the out-of-favour oligarch will travel not so far away with a billion in compensation. The heritage will be seized by the Kremlin's new Family-2. And the autocratic oligarchic corrupt regime will become firmly established in Russia, with the very rich elite of the few and enormous mass of the poor, like in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Naturally, such a country will never be able to become an integrated part of the West. And what for? Who needs the real rule of the law, the real democracy and transparency in politics and society?

The new Family-2 will never allow Putin to leave the Kremlin neither in 2008 nor in 2012 or 2020. Otherwise a Family-3 will take its place and demand that the loot should be handed over again.

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