#11 - JRL 7258
July 17-21, 2003
INVITING YUKOS FOR EXECUTION: BOGDANCHIKOV PLAYING THE AXEMAN
New episodes of the soap opera called "Oligarchs Also Weep"
Author: Alexander Losev
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ANALYSTS HAVE BEEN COMING UP WITH NEW THEORIES ABOUT WHY THE MECHANISM OF STATE HAS "MOVED IN ON" THE YUKOS OIL COMPANY. THIS IS THE SAGA OF A "POLITICAL CONSULTANT" CALLED STANISLAV BELKOVSKY AND HIS IMPLICATION IN VARIOUS CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS AROUND YUKOS, SERGEI BOGDANCHIKOV, AND MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY.
The Prosecutor General's Office has been finding more and more evidence of crime at YUKOS: from stolen assets to guns and phone- tapping equipment. Analysts have been coming up with new theories about why the mechanism of state has "moved in on" Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The main theory says that the oligarch's excessive political ambitions are the reason: his flirtation with the communists and other harmful oppositionists.
However, the administration is by no means faceless here. Operation "Storm at YUKOS" has a specific instrument, as in past cases of enemies of the regime being "scraped out of their cracks:" Kokh vs. Gusinsky, Gazprom vs. Jordan, Bogdanchikov vs. Khodorkovsky.
Detention of Platon Lebedev, Khodorkovsky's partner was the "first ring" betokening a tempest. The very next day Khodorkovsky and Nevzlin were summonsed for questioning. However, two weeks before this demonstrative "invitation for execution" Sergei Bogdanchikov, director of Rosneft, had submitted to the Prosecutor General's Office a claim "dedicated" to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Bogdanchikov accused YUKOS executives of stealing a 19% stake in the Yeniseineftegaz company, i.e. Sergei Bogdanchikov, Khodorkovsky's main rival in the oil market, had informed on Khodorkovsky first. This was the start of the big hunting for big game.
THE F--K COMMAND
The thing is that a corporate dispute between YUKOS and Rosneft, related to the key asset of the Vankursk deposit has been underway for months, but Bogdanchikov's "decisive" claim had been lodged suspiciously in time, supposedly when he had received the command "Fetch!" (Or even "F--k!", according to transcripts of conversations between Bogdanchikov and his associates, published on a website the day after Khodorkovsky's partner was arrested). Earlier, Bogdanchikov had been "dealing with" his partners via the courts, never via the Prosecutor General's Office: for instance, in the battle for Slavneft, when the president of Rosneft dared to take legal action against the Russian Federal Property Fund, as no state company had dared before.
Three decrypted conversations of Sergei Bogdanchikov - his telephone conversations on July 1 and 2 - showed that the other partners had been Igor Sechin, deputy director of the Presidential Administration, and a certain "political consultant" called Stanislav Belkovsky. If these transcripts are authentic, Sechin and Bogdanchikov had been discussing a failed attempt to involve Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov in the fight against YUKOS; they had tried to scare Kasianov with accounts of Khodorkovsky's growing political influence and the danger of a political coup. Belkovsky and Bogdanchikov had agreed the terms of payment for a PR campaign against YUKOS. The "Fuck!" command - the start of the attack on YUKOS - was heard in Bogdanchikov's third conversation, dated July 2.
It might be possible to doubt the authenticity of the transcripts published online, if one didn't know who Stanislav Belkovsky is, or what role he plays in the soap opera entitled "Oligarchs Also Weep".
At the first meeting, Belkovsky had proudly introduced himself as "Boris Berezovsky's dirty PR specialist." As evidence, he had been receiving visitors at the vacant reception rooms of LogoVAZ on Novokuznetskaya Street. A minor player in the sphere of political consulting, Belkovsky had always aspired to become a larger player; he had been envious of Gleb Pavlovsky's glory, and even tried to drown his rival in "dirty PR" - but failed. Even in PR, "dirty" doesn't always mean "better". At least, Belkovsky lost the battle for the Communist Party (CPRF) entrusted to him by Berezovsky; he lost it to Khodorkovsky. So after that, he lashed out at Khodorkovsky really hard. Even as far back as last autumn, he was spreading rumors that the Kremlin had sent Khodorkovsky to the Communists, and that Khodorkovsky was planting special services agents in the CPRF.
Simultaneously, this person had wormed his way into Khodorkovsky's confidence and had afterwards "surrendered" the president of YUKOS to Sechin and Bogdanchikov and tried to get the prime minister involved - but failed with the last aspect, although Belkovsky had been trying to scare Mikhail Kasianov with Khodorkovsky for a long time.
For this purpose, Belkovsky had founded the National Strategy Council (NSC) and held the conference on "Crisis of ruling elite in Russia and a systems of threats to Mikhail Kasianov's government" at the Marriott Aurora Hotel. Undoubtedly, Khodorkovsky the oligarch was the embodiment of the main threat. In spring he issued the NSC report on the "oligarchic coup in Russia." Many political consultants then disavowed this "work." The "signs" of the coup had been falsified so clumsily and the characters were so far-fetched.
Rumor has it that it was Berezovsky who made Bogdanchikov head of Rosneft. A full-scale provocation effort was directed against Putilov, then president of Rosneft. Since that time, Bogdanchikov has owned a great deal to Berezovsky.
Bogdanchikov-Belkovsky have contacts with Sergei Pugachev, president of Mezhprombank. Belkovsky has been "secretary for ideology" (a "brain center" as he calls himself) with the Moskoviya television channel, belonging to Orthodox oligarch Pugachev. Together with Mezhprombank, Bogdanchikov had founded Russky Ugol joint venture; the bank has been crediting the oil project in Chechnya, which is of crucial importance for Rosneft. Mezhprombank belongs the "St. Petersburg" team and therefore appearance of Sechin (an arrival from St. Petersburg) in the story "Bogdanchikov vs. YUKOS" is easily explainable.
A DISPOSABLE TOOL
Bogdanchikov has been involved via Belkovsky. Evidently, the role of a "cudgel of power" puts Bogdanchikov into strain: being a large shark of the national business, he cannot be unaware of the danger his executive function in the staging has. He is realizing that "attacking YUKOS" he'll be discarded soon afterwards. After the "clean-up" he'll be thrown away like a disposable syringe, as well as with another "cudgels against oligarchs."
In his own name, Stanislav Belkovsky is now trying to stir up the fire in YUKOS by PR measures. He has been launching a thesis about general sponsorship for the CPRF, preparation for the change of power; notes "weakness and inconsistence" of President Putin, who cannot so far establish order in the country.This all resembles a direct delation. The obedient political consultants are echoing: supposedly, state-owned Rosneft is so weak against the background of various YUKOS-type companies.
Thee are some points to accept here. Bogdanchikov has weakened himself by agreeing to play an executioner: he'll either be sent to London or merely made quit.
This is the theory our author has presented. In our next issues we'll try to present the viewpoints of all characters mentioned in this material.
The political consultant had actually worked for Boris Berezovsky in the past, and is still speaking of it, but he is accepting any kind of commissions.
Could it be that in setting aside the Kremlin, with Bogdanchikov as its tool, we are once again being offered a cover story involving Berezovsky alone manipulating all processes - while the regime, as usual, is completely innocent?
To be continued.
SERGEI BOGDANCHIKOV, PRESIDENT OF ROSNEFT:
In the late 1990s the State Customs Committee accused Rosneft of exporting over 85 million tons of oil to the CIS without paying export duties.
1998. Rosneft handed over its authority to sell 1.5 million tons of Iraqi oil (within the Oil for Food program) to a private company called Petroquorum. The CIA is now looking for this money (settled in Saddam Hussein's secret deposits) through dozens of offshore zones.
1998. Ziya Bazhayev, president of the Alliance Group, won the tender for external management of Rosneft. Bogdanchikov postponed concluding an agreement with Alliance Group, whereupon Ziya Bazhayev left Rosneft and died soon after.
2002-2003. He purchased the notorious Severnaya Neft (Northern Oil) company from Andrei Vavilov, former deputy finance minister. According to observers, the price was substantially inflated.
2002. Rosneft declared its intention to purchase a 27% stake in Kuzbassrazrezugol, which belonged to Transrail under Aksenenko.
Based on the last two facts, specialists conclude that Rosneft has been specializing in purchasing "murky" assets owned by former and current state officials.
2002. Hundreds of minority shareholders of Purneftegaz and Krasnodarneftegaz were ruined by the actions of Rosneft.
2002. Bogdanchikov's company was involved in a legal battle with investment company OLMA, because the company had calculated that between 1998 and 2002 Rosneft had almost halved in value due to the actions of the company's management.
STANISLAV BELKOVSKY, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY COUNCIL, MANAGER OF THE APN.RU WEBSITE:
Specialization: creating political consulting structures and global strategies with the single purpose: "be in command of the budget."
2002. He fought for Lenta.ru and lost.
2002. He wanted to an executive position with the Moskoviya television channel and failed.
2001. He was carrying out a PR campaign against the so-called "arrivals from St. Petersburg:" Zaostrovtsev, Sechin, Kozak. The effect was minimal. The APN.ru website was the main resource.
Late 2001 - early 2002. Worked in the campaign team of Valentin Kolmogorov during the gubernatorial elections in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). He lost.
2002. Decided to become the ideologue of the Liberal Russia party, and failed.
Late 2002. Bought the Soyuz party and failed to register it. Tried to make Alexander Prokhanov leader of the Soyuz party and was rejected.
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)