Argumenty i Fakty
July 23, 2003
A "QUIET" SUMMER: A FIVE-POINT LOYALTY ULTIMATUM FOR TYCOONS
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
By mid-August, the Prosecutor General's Office may instigate five or six criminal cases. Reportedly, the evidence has already been collected, and the individuals involved are meant to be Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Oleg Deripaska, and Andrei Melnichenko. Roman Abramovich is not on the list; he will be dealt with separately, since he holds state office (governor of Chukotka). The cases will involve privatization of some public property, financial machinations, and money laundering. Some other crimes are very likely to come to light as well.
Law enforcement agencies don't want to back down. At any rate, they have no intention of quietly closing the file on the YUKOS case. This became clear after a fairly high-level meeting of security and law enforcement officials.
The oligarchs are already discussing a five-point ultimatum said to have been received by the chief executive of Yukos. These are as follows:
1. Stay out of politics.
2. Stop funding all political parties (the United Russia party is not funded by YUKOS)
3. Make no attempts to place his own people on party electoral lists for the Duma elections.
4. Find a way of publicly repenting, as Mr. Potanin has done.
5. Refrain from leaving the country in the near future.
The security and law enforcement agencies tend to be more active when the president is away from Moscow. He will soon leave for a tour of the Russian Far East and Malaysia; then he may take a vacation in Sochi.
So what is the overriding objective of the authorities in this situation? First of all, to create conditions for a mobilization policy on economic growth (to double the GDP by 2010). Secondly, to ensure that the administration's supporters win at least 300 Duma seats. Thirdly, to redesign Russia's internal structure into 35 regions. All this will require a strict hierarchy of governance, with no billionaires getting in the way.
How will the oligarchs respond? For example, it is within their power to bring the entire Russian stock market crashing down within a day or two. In fact, the stock market has already been falling. Over the past two weeks, the value of Russian enterprises has dropped by $15 billion. Up to $3 billion has been transferred abroad. And this is only a beginning. Meanwhile, in the West YUKOS is recognized as one of the best international companies in terms of return on investment.