Aborted Revolution: Vesti Special Report on Attempted Moscow Liberal Color Coup of 2012
ARKADY MAMONTOV'S AUTHOR PROGRAM
In May of 2012, thousands of protesters, who were incited by opposition leaders, were to rush to the Kremlin over the Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge. A Russian velvet revolution or liberal coup was expected to take place. They tried to drive the country back into the tumultuous 90s, the years of the oligarchy. Their Western handlers were rubbing their hands in anticipation of their victory. But it didn't happen.
MOSCOW. MAY 2012
It all ended here on Bolotnaya Square. Khodorkovsky kept track of those events while he was serving his sentence in Colony No. 7 in Segezha. The ex-oligarch was hoping that there would be a sharp turn in his life in the coming days and he would leave his prison cell a conquering hero. Half a year later, the Russian president granted Mikhail Khodorkovsky a pardon on his own request. He left for Germany at once.
BERLIN DECEMBER 22ND, 2013
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: «I'm not going to be involved in politics. I mentioned that in my letter to President Putin and repeated it more than once».
However, he broke his word.
«We destroyed the Soviet Union and we'll destroy Russia too».
A SPIRAL OF SILENCE
«There aren't many places in the world where it'd be worse than in Russia.» (Bill Browder)
«We worship His Financial Majesty — Capital».
«We have a lot of money».
«The process will be the bomb».
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: «Given the lack of an institution of fair elections and other mechanisms of a legitimate change of power, revolution is the only way to change it».
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA MARCH OF 2018
NATALIA GRYAZNEVICH, OPEN RUSSIA COORDINATOR: «We want a peaceful change of power so that sane, mature, smart people could take the next step and take power in the country in their own hands».
To take power in their own hands is their idea. But there was a time when power was in the hands of a liberal elite.
Moscow, 1992. The Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation is in session. Realizing that they were about to make the biggest con in the country's history, MPs voted against voucher privatization proposed by Chubais. Then, President Yeltsin dispersed the parliament by Presidential Decree #1400. The parliament was against the burglarious privatization of all of the country.
Next to the White House, there's the US embassy. The Americans secretly guided all of the actions to disperse the parliament. There was a big prize at stake — all of Russia.
ARCHIVE FOOTAGE 2001
ANATOLY CHUBAIS, RAO UES CEO: «We knew that every plant sold is a nail in the communists' coffin. No matter whether it was sold at a high or low price, given for free or even a new owner was paid for taking it. This is the least important question. What matters here is that every new legitimate owner in Russia is an irreversible change. Just as on September 1st, 1992, the first voucher holders literally grabbed the decision to suspend privatization in Russia out of the Communists' hands, our every further step was made in the same direction. Until 1997, privatization in Russia wasn't an economic process at all. It was a task of a completely different scale. Back then, very few people could realize that here and even fewer in the West. Its main objective was to stop communism. We've done that.»
But amidst all that mayhem and plundering of the legacy of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin appointed a person who was strongly against careless federal property spending as the Chairman of the Russian Federal Property Fund. Vladimir Polevanov occupied that important post for just 72 days.
VLADIMIR POLEVANOV, EX-CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY FUND:
— It was the Americans who fired me. There was a tradition, I don't know whether it's still observed. The Vice Premier received reports from ambassadors of seven countries every day. A courier came and gave them to me so I could read about what's going on in Italy, Canada, and the US. Vorontsov, the Ambassador from Russia to the US, wrote Yeltsin and urged him to send Kozyrev to Geneva as soon as possible. US Secretary of State Christopher would be there to work with Polevanov on issues that undermined Russian-American relations. Otherwise, the 6-billion-dollar tranche that was to be disbursed at the forum in Davos wouldn't be disbursed.
— Was it a real…
— It was an ultimatum. Of course, it was Yeltsin. He summoned me, and we talked. Before I was fired, he told me that unfortunately, he could do nothing, and they needed that money. He asked me to work in the Control Directorate and then he'd see what happens. They were afraid that I could practically prevent them from plundering the country. The thing is that the US has always had and will always have only one goal in mind: to make Russia a backward country for sure or best of all, make it cease to exist. As Brzezinski said, they were going to carry out further modernization on the wreckage of Russia and at its expense. I wasn't allowing them to ruin the country. They realized it well. That's why I was immediately fired.
During the two months he occupied a ministerial position, Polevanov didn't manage to do a lot. But still, he managed to do something.
VLADIMIR POLEVANOV: “Heads of defense companies came to me and told me how it worked. It happened on the advice given by Goskomimushchestvo, and Chubais did it as well. 70 defense enterprises were dismantled. The Accounts Chamber confirmed this later. There was a plant in Kaluga which made engines for nuclear submarines and a plant in Perm which supplied the aviation industry, the Mil Helicopter Plant among them. Moreover, the Americans used shell companies. They established many shell companies since it was prohibited for foreigners to make direct purchases. That's how they purchased those enterprises.”
The CIA's economic advisors launched its main blow on our military–industrial complex. Under false pretenses, the employees of the American intelligence services conducted a large-scale survey among the senior specialists of those enterprises. It took them just a few weeks to collect a huge amount of data about our defense industry. They established a special NATO subdivision which processed all the data from Russia.
VLADIMIR POLEVANOV: “Unfortunately, that strategy was fully implemented. Now, we are facing the consequences of this. We lost our civilian aviation industry. We almost lost our entire naval industry, which we had just started… I mean, it's just in the last five years or so that Putin has been tackling the issue of defense. This is a vital issue for our country. They shouldn't have done it at all. And the main thing is that they shouldn't have carried out the privatization at such a pace. That pace was necessary to turn power into property. Chubais is lying when he says that it was necessary to destroy communism. But they couldn't care less about communism. He needed to transfer the oil industry to a friend such as Khodorkovsky and so on. Komsomol and party members quickly took that property. In truth, it was simply a case of blatant fraud.”
VLADIMIR TRACTOR PLANT
Back in the mid-90s, everybody rushed to plunder Russia: party functionaries, new-sprung businessmen, with American spies and Western profiteers of all kinds joining them in that ruckus.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: “As it turned out today, CIA employees worked for Anatoly Borisovich as advisors. But the funnier thing is that after coming back to the US, they were brought to trial for enriching themselves using unlawful means during the process of privatization in the Russian Federation. As active intelligence officers, they had no right to do it. US law prohibited them from doing any commercial activities, but they just couldn't resist. It's corruption, you see.”
Here's a quote from writer Nikolai Leonov's book Russia's Calvary (1991-2000).
«They used a few standard instruments to infiltrate the military-industrial complex. They established shell companies which interfered with the process of privatization on legal grounds. The defense industry was largely involved in it. Take Chubais's adviser Jonathan Hay, a US citizen connected to the CIA, for example. He established the Russian shell company Graniks, which he used to buy a pilot production plant of the Research Institute of Graphite-Based Structural Materials and 30% of Moscow Electrode Plant shares. He was now the owner of a defense company producing strategic graphite for military missile makers. He refused to perform Russia's defense contracts and began to work for American companies.”
25 years later, former employees of Western intelligence services began to talk.
ANNIE MACHON, FORMER MI5 INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: „My name is Annie Machon. In the 1990s, I worked for the security service of the United Kingdom as known as MI5. We saw a group of people from the Chicago School of Economics deploying to Russia in the 1990s. It was under Yeltsin. As a result, the Russian people's wealth was plundered. Energy companies were affected in particular. Back then, Americans were arriving and making huge amounts of money. Since the country was in a state of shock, it went along with the idea that everything should be privatized. Then, those predators began to plunder the nation's wealth.
It's not only Russia that suffered from that in the 1990s under Yeltsin. First, it took place in Chile in the 1970s. A huge amount of assets were privatized in America in the same way. Great Britain suffered from capital outflows in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher. Many other countries suffered from it later. It was a shock to Russia much more so than the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a very strong blow by the oligarchs, who were some of the richest men in the world.“
In those years, Russia's economy was like Terra nullius or „nobody's land.“ Any crafty predator could seize property which used to belong to the nation. The guys from the Communist Party, Komsomol leaders, and other party functionaries were first to do that.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the luckiest and smartest of them. The junior research associate could sense a change in society very well. Khodorkovsky established the Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity of the Youth. It was supposed to unite young scientists. Khodorkovsky used it as a place to do his commercial activities. He sold everything: jeans, cognac, PCs, and everything he could make money on, according to one former Yukos top manager. He did everything under the guise of the Communist Party.
Mark Hollingsworth, a writer and journalist, wrote a book about Russian oligarchs entitled Londongrad. Over the years of his work in Moscow, he studied the mentality of the so-called post-Soviet entrepreneurs.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: „All the Russian oligarch made a lot of money very quickly and in an immoral and probably illegal way. They stole from Russia to sell the most profitable state assets at less than 10% of their market value. That's what unites all of them“.
The cynicism of those plundering Russian property shocked even experienced investigators. Salavat Karimov, a senior investigator working on high profile cases at the Office of the Prosecutor General, investigated the Yukos case. Some things in that story were real eye-openers for him.
SALAVAT KARIMOV, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATOR:
— If one stole an enterprise, he should work, produce, make a profit, and pay taxes. But, no. After that, they continued to steal. I mean they didn't pay to the state budget what they had to pay. He extracted natural resources, and oil is a natural resource and our nation's wealth. He extracted it and didn't pay any taxes. He sold all of it abroad. These were Yuganskneftegaz, Samaraneftegaz, and Tomskneft. They produced about 40 million tons of oil together. It was 30-40 million at first. After he extracted the oil, he took it for himself. He established companies which took away the extracting enterprises' right to liquidate the oil. He created an entity just for this. It was called Yukos AP. It was a holding company. That holding company pretended to buy oil from those companies. In fact, on the books, it was marked as lubricating oil. In reality, it was crude oil. He bought it as lubricating oil. I mean that he had to pay only production costs.”
— And how much did it cost?
— Well, it was about 200 rubles.
— How much?
— 200 rubles.
— A ton?
— Yes. Then, a Russian shell company, some limited liability corporation, bought the oil. It was established in tax havens such as the towns of Trekhgorny and Lesnoy, or the Republics of Mordovia and Kalmykia. The tax base is very low there. So, he bought oil at 200 rubles and resold it to another shell company owned by him. For instance, at a price of 1,000 rubles. Or 1,200 rubles. He generated huge profits but since the company was registered in a tax haven, he paid minimum taxes.
— Who let him register companies there?
— Well, our government created special zones to…
— To enrich oligarchs.
— Oligarchs enriched themselves there. In essence, those zones were only…
— For them?
— For them.
Despite the fact that in the 1990s, nobody prevented Khodorkovsky and people like him from plundering the country, thriving oligarchs still worried. What if the authorities come back to their senses and start an investigation of how those people made their fortunes without paying any taxes.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: „When Khodorkovsky made billions of dollars on the profits and proceeds of Yukosneft, which he privatized, he wanted to get the money out of the country instead of investing that money in Russia. He decided that he needed to get the money out of the country. He transferred the money via offshore entities and firms in Cyprus and other offshore jurisdictions. He needed an accomplice abroad because he didn't completely understand what he was doing. Khodorkovsky had been an academic. He was very smart and well-educated. But he didn't have much experience in running a business. Intermediaries such as lawyers and consultants helped him. He used Walmet, which was actually a group of companies. It was created to move the money out of Russia. It was established on the Isle of Man. In fact, it controlled the transfer of Yukos's profits abroad“.
At that moment, Khodorkovsky needed to hire Western lawyers and consultants that would help him hide his billions. And he found such a person — Stephen Curtis.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: Curtis was a lawyer in Mayfair. It's up the street on Park Lane. He was an expert in establishing offshore companies and advising very rich people how to manage their assets and hide their money in a very sophisticated way using offshore entities. He was a person whom Russian oligarchs trusted. In fact, he was more than just a lawyer.
Lucy Commissaire, a publicist, studied the history of Russian privatization and Yukos's financial operations in detail. She can tell us about Khodorkovsky for sure.
LUCY COMMISSAIRE, PUBLICIST: „He's a financial fraudster and swindler. That's who he is. He used a shell company established on the offshore Isle of Man, a British colony, to sell under-priced oil. Meanwhile, his real company sold oil on the world market at a normal price, which was a way higher price than the price in the documents. He took the difference between these two prices as profits. It means that he cheated“.
The scheme which Yukos managers used to move the money out of Russia was code-named „Jurby Lake“.
LUCY COMMISSAIRE, PUBLICIST: „If he were an honest man, he would've told everybody about his fraud. They even gave a code name to that scheme. It was the Jerby Lake System. It's derived from the name of a place on the British Isle of Man. Why did he not tell us how it all worked? I asked him about it at the Council on Foreign Relations meeting. I'm its member. But he didn't answer my question“.
We found that place on the Isle of Man. It's an ordinary plateau. We saw hills, forests, and a rural landscape. The only thing which reminds you of civilization is a parking lot where one can charge Tesla cars. There was a time when people transferred billions of dollars from Russia to this hinterland, billions they made on the sale of natural resources taken away from our people.
In Douglas, the capital of the island, we tried to find the offices of the companies affiliated with Yukos and its former owners.
— Excuse me. We're looking for Mutual Trust Management.
— We don't know such a company.
— Have you heard anything about Yukos? Valmet, Yukos's office, must be here.
— There's a security guard there. I'll ask him.
— Has there ever been a company called Valmet?
— There isn't anything with such a name. I'm sorry. Check the floor above. Maybe there's something up there. There's nothing here.
»Are you sure that it's in Douglas?"
«Try to ask someone in the pub».
London and Great Britain have become closer and dearer to Khodorkovsky than Russia. He's got property and friends here. Stephen Curtis, Yukos's and Khodorkovsky's attorney, made a brilliant career on skillfully hiding money Russian oligarchs moved out of the country.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: «He was the main man whom rich Russians turned to when they wanted to move to London, buy property, send children to a private school, settle in there, open bank accounts, and set up companies. He was a person whom they had to turn to and who had the necessary contacts to help you settle in and create infrastructure in Great Britain. He was a key person because he was one of the few men who knew where all of Yukos's profits had gone. We're talking about hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars».
Stephen Curtis made a great fortune for himself using Russian oligarch money literally in just a few years. He owned several apartments in London. His office, where the majority of the deals were made, was in the center of the British capital, in Mayfair, next to Hyde Park. Interestingly, 600 feet away from that building, there is the BVI London Office, another offshore haven for crooked businessmen.
We visited the Isle of Portland, in the south of Britain. Curtis bought the Pennsylvania Castle there. All of the well-paid lawyer's clients stayed there.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: «I think that Curtis enjoyed the danger and intrigue when working for those people. On one hand, he was pretty concerned and scared about representing such menacing and powerful Russian billionaires. But I think that at the same time, it was a thrill for him, the fact that it was dangerous, that he always was in danger of being charged with a crime or be placed under surveillance. Then, Curtis started behaving like a Russian oligarch. He had a lover who worked at the jewelry store Express. He began to wear black and leather and pay cash at nightclubs. He was never going to set the world on fire, but he was a smart person and a good lawyer».
He flew to his villa in Portland two to three times a week. He even had to buy a helicopter and hire a pilot for that. In March 2004, the almost new Agusta АW109 suddenly crashed and exploded during landing. British authorities said that the official cause of the accident was bad weather.
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: «By the end of his life, he was very scared. He realized that he got in too deep. I met with his friends and they told me that he became very nervous. He realized that he was dealing with people that were dangerous.»
Many Russian oligarchs attended the lawyer's funeral. Naturally, Boris Berezovsky was the most prominent figure.
DAVID, NEIGHBOR OF THE CURTISES: «His death was very strange. People linked it to different things such as the Russian mafia and things like that. I think they make their own story. Mr. Curtis was a nice man. But you know how it happens. I think they'll reopen the case at some point to find out the truth».
In the early 2000s, Khodorkovsky's offshore empire flourished. The oligarch could then afford almost anything. Not only did he buy oil fields, but he also bribed officials, from an ordinary policeman to an MP. When President Putin began to clean up the mess, the investigators and operatives who did it had to confront an entire system of counteraction.
SALAVAT KARIMOV: «When I began to investigate the criminal cases related to the Yukos oil company's crimes, I confronted such strong resistance that I had never had in my career. I'd been investigating for over 30 years then, and it never happened that we couldn't investigate a case where everything was obvious but we couldn't find anything, conduct searches anywhere, or summon or question anyone».
Oligarchs call Salavat Karimov a hunter.
SALAVAT KARIMOV: «When we came to conduct a search, the office of the company was totally cleaned up and we saw just clean desks or locked doors, so we had to break in using various tools. When we got inside, we just saw empty rooms. It means that people working in law enforcement were actually bribed by the company's security service. So, we couldn't achieve any results. At some point, the management of the Office of the General Prosecutor called off the escort by all of the operational services, as in, the security forces which escorted us while we did investigative work».
Khodorkovsky and his partners' manner of doing business was primitive. By hook or by crook, they seized profitable enterprises that were extracting and processing oil. They cut back on all of the infrastructure, shut down hospitals, schools, kindergartens, other entities, fired thousands of employees, and extracted all of the resources from the seized property. They acted like real predators.
SALAVAT KARIMOV: You asked what shocked me. What shocked me is that he stole Yukos shares. When Yukos was privatized, he came and pretended that he bought Yukos shares. He paid a nominal value, he paid next to nothing. It was a mere $9 million. He promised to invest about $800 million in that company.
— Did he invest?
— No, he didn't. He didn't invest a dime. After that, he threw all of the shares abroad, he began to own them through foreign companies.
If anybody tried to confront Khodorkovsky's «juice squeezer» policy, such people either very quickly changed their opinion or disappeared for good.
VLADIMIR PETUKHOV, EX-MAYOR OF NEFTEYUGANSK: «My opponents will probably make a laughingstock out of me. Well, the risk is very high. I'm sorry but I have no right to surrender if I'm responsible for 100,000 people living in the town of Nefteyugansk».
— They didn't manage to save Vladimir Arkadievich.
Vladimir Petukhov was attacked on his way to his office. He used to walk in the morning, talk to people, and find out the latest news. The assassins were well aware of that.
OLEG LURIE, JOURNALIST: «Why did they kill the mayor of Nefteyugansk Petukhov? Everything Petukhov asked for… Yukos was a town-forming enterprise of Nefteyugansk. It extracted oil which was worth billions of dollars. He asked just for a part of the taxes they had to pay. It was next to nothing for Yukos. Khodorkovsky could easily fund the entire town. It would have cost him nothing. He asked them to pay a pittance to Nefteyugansk's budget. Petukhov went on a hunger strike and appealed to different authorities. Basically, he was murdered on Khodorkovsky's birthday. He was murdered for what he asked for, what he pleaded for… His spouse told me that a few days before he was murdered, he met with Nevzlin. He asked them just to pay their fair share of taxes. He argued that it was a pittance for them. The investigators revealed that Khodorkovsky, acting through Pichugin, gave the order to kill him. Nevzlin gave that order. Just imagine, they murdered a man just for a pittance».
Only the perpetrators were punished for murdering the Mayor of Nefteyugansk Vladimir Petukhov. The real masterminds were never found.
«I loved Nefteyugansk».
When the Yukos case trial began in 2003, a relentless propaganda campaign was unleashed in Russia and the West. Free! Free! Free! Despite the unprecedented pressure from the West and Russia's liberals, a Russian court made its decision.
«Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky is sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment in a penal colony».
MOSCOW MAY 2005
Khodorkovsky's defense tried to challenge the verdict. But even the European Court of Human Rights, after examining the case, supported the Russian court's decision. It was found that Mikhail Khodorkovsky stole 218,749,527 tons of oil. Russia's federal budget lost 824,105,480,453 rubles ($30 billion).
SALAVAT KARIMOV: «Khodorkovsky thinks that he is superhuman, that he's completely immune from prosecution. When he realized that it was impossible to refute the evidence collected by the investigation, that he was sure to be convicted, he decided to amend the Civil Code to gain advantage from it. He turned to the Constitutional Court and claimed that the concept of looting doesn't comply with the Constitution and the way it's done in the world, so let's modify the concept of looting. And he started to vilify the investigation and courts using his PR campaign. He tried to claim in the European Court of Human Rights that our courts are corrupt. But he failed».
2003 was a breaking point for Yukos and Khodorkovsky. As soon as the investigative authorities began to check the company's activities, top managers became concerned about hiding their activities with money and natural resources, tying up the loose ends. Not only billions of dollars but a loss of goodwill was involved. Given the circumstances, they needed to get rid of the witnesses of the crimes. There were dozens of witnesses. They included real and fake CEOs, accountants, economists, heads of real and fake subdivisions. Of course, they had to hide them abroad.
Here's a quote from Irina Chernikova's interrogation report.
«On July 11th or 12th, 2003, when I was in the countryside, I got a call from Panagushina, the Deputy CFO of one of Yukos's subsidiaries that was acting as a trading house, from what I recall. We were on good terms, and she recommended SPRTT to hire me. She had some influence there. She said that I personally didn't have any problems but the corporation was having some, so I had to go to Cyprus for a couple of weeks. They had already bought a ticket for me».
This was done in a hurry and in a rather cynical manner. They brought people using fake documents to the nearest offshore country and promised to take them back to Russia as soon as the situation returned to normal.
«As far as I understood, Yukos was under the corporation. Of course, Panagushina spoke on behalf of the company. She said that the company was asking me to do it. I considered it to be the request of my boss, Yukos Chief Accountant Irina Golub. It's worth noting that they contacted me through my son's or husband's phone, I can't remember exactly. I don't know why there was such a hurry and who made that decision».
SALAVAT KARIMOV: «When he committed those crimes, he did that with other people's hands. He tried not to occupy any posts in the companies. He acted through his subordinates. To prevent his subordinates from testifying, as they could have incriminated him, he just made all of them flee the country. A few dozen people are still hiding abroad. They had to leave their homes, relatives, and friends».
MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, WRITER: “" think that Khodorkovsky could have reached some agreement with Putin after he was arrested and sent to prison in 2003. Many of his former managers and employees were in London. Although they were safe there, the majority of them wanted to return to Russia. But they couldn't do it because they knew that they could be arrested and brought to trial. I suspect, and it's only my guess though, that Khodorkovsky didn't try to help his people. He didn't want to give in and take responsibility for what he'd done. He wasn't ready to compromise. And that prevented him from helping those people".
Dmitry Gololobov is one of the runaways in London. He's a brilliant lawyer and former head of Yukos's legal department. In the fall of 2004, he had to leave Moscow forever because he faced imprisonment for embezzling the funds of the Eastern Oil Company. Khodorkovsky and his accomplices made up a scheme to steal the money. Great Britain denied Russia's requests to extradite Gololobov.
DMITRY GOLOLOBOV, LAWYER: «I haven't seen Khodorkovsky for years. You can say that I don't know him. I'm speaking now as an impartial expert. I talked to many people in London who knew him much better than I did. In my humble opinion, Mikhail Borisovich had an ax to grind with Vladimir Vladimirovich. He resented him. He was very bitter. He was seeking revenge because otherwise, his life would have no meaning. But he knows that to take revenge is very difficult. On the other hand, a very simple thing urges him to seek it. He spent about 11 years in prison, and he was released. I think that he's just saving his energy and thinks that there will be some moment of opportunity when he'll be able to act. He needs to wait because Putin can't have power forever and he'll leave one day. There will be some change or something like that. It's typical for Russia that one can always fish in troubled waters, especially when he has money».
Today, by conservative estimates, Khodorkovsky's fortune is worth $9 billion. Mikhail Borisovich can't spend the money which he stole from the Russian people anymore.
MIKHAIL KHAZIN, ECONOMIST: Speaking of the present day, the situation is as follows. I suspect that Khodorkovsky was told the following: «You received your money…»
— Who told him that?
— The people who are the main beneficiaries of all of the deals he made in the 1990s and the early 2000s.
— Who are they?
— I don't know who they are.
— Are they Americans?
— I'm not sure. I don't know exactly who they are. Khodorkovsky knows well that if he doesn't do that, they'll just take all of his money. He is absolutely calm…
— The money that's in the West now?
— Yes. They'll do it through the court, and he'll become poor. He doesn't want to be poor. That's why that attack will continue. Khodorkovsky will continue to do that, cause trouble, and so on. But they won't be able to fully implement that plan. It doesn't mean that they can't do other things.
A fraudster acting on an international scale, William Browder, helps him. He moved billions of dollars out of Russia. To hide his financial fraud, he filed lawsuits against our country. He used his Hermitage Capital Management fund to lobby Congress into adopting the Magnitsky Act. The sanctions against Russia were introduced after the act was adopted. According to official info, Browder spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars on it. As the life.ru reporter Ilya Ukhov found out, the anti-Russian lobby in the US Congress was funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky as well. It took place when the ex-CEO of Yukos was serving his sentence in prison.
ILYA UKHOV, LIFE.RU REPORTER: «Hermitage Capital Management paid from $50,000 to $100,000. The amounts reached even $300,000-350,000 in some years. One can find the date and count it. One should realize that when such a fund, for example, Hermitage Capital Management, pays some American lobbyists, it pays a certain lobbying firm. I noticed that one of the firms whose name was constantly in the documents as a counterparty of Browder's Hermitage Capital Management was the well-known company APCO Worldwide. Then, it started to become unraveled. If we look at the people working for APCO Worldwide, the name Margery Kraus comes up. This is a direct link to Khodorkovsky's business empire and his organizations, many of which are now declared undesirable organizations in Russia. It's worth noting that Margery Kraus, who acts as a lobbyist on behalf of APCO Worldwide, is a trustee of the Institute of Modern Russia. If I'm not mistaken, it's headed by Pavel Khodorkovsky, who is Khodorkovsky's son. He is an essential part of Open Russia, which was established by Khodorkovsky. That institute and Open Russia were declared undesirable organizations in Russia. So, Margery Kraus is a link of sorts. That was my first point that Hermitage Capital Management funded the adoption of the Magnitsky Act. Khodorkovsky's organizations funded it, too. The link in that lobbyist network is Margery Kraus, who is a trustee. For example, Khodorkovsky hired Ashcroft's firm. He's a former US Attorney General. He is a very influential figure. Well, the US Attorney General is like a Minister of Justice. He heads the Ministry of Justice as the Attorney General. It's natural that such a person is influential, especially in an administration controlled by the Republicans, If I'm not mistaken, Ashcroft worked with George W. Bush. The firm is very big and has connections in the US Congress. It's natural that if you're affiliated with those people and organizations, you have great influence among congressmen and Republicans in particular. It's clear that they are one of the leading parties. That's why I think there is a link, including a link through the Corbiere Trust Company. I wrote about it, too. It's a fund. If I'm not mistaken, it was registered on the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It's Khodorkovsky's offshore organizations. It was also actively involved in transferring money for lobbying. That's why there's a direct link. The same people are involved. The same people are involved in the same activities funded by Browder's and Khodorkovsky's money».
The two odious men, Browder and Khodorkovsky, have apparently joined forces in their actions against Russia. First, they robbed it, and now they want to destroy our country by plunging it into chaos. It is well known that it's easier to fish in murky waters.
REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, VILNIUS AIRPORT VILNIUS, LITHUANIA, MARCH 2018
«Marina Belova, Tver. ...expressing the demand…»
Alexander Soloviev, Open Russia Movement Chairman: «For 17 years, we've been told there'd be action. So where is it? Problems are not getting solved. They are only accumulating.»
Dmitry Skurikhin, Open Russia Movement Member: «My cap says that I don't recognize Putin as the president. This cap is 5 years old. I've been wearing it since the last election. I also have a summer hat with the same statement».
Alexander, Open Russia Movement Member: «My colleagues believe that the election wasn't honest or fair and the president elected in that election is not legitimate».
Nikolai, Open Russia Movement Member: «We are building a collegiate government. We don't need just one leader. We're building a system that will allow to substitute a person after he leaves. Our main goal is to put a parliamentary republic in place of the presidential one».
Today, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is wearing the toga of an honest fighter with Putin's regime, a sort of selfless revolutionary, concerned with the happiness of Russian people.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Ex-President of Yukos: «If some foreign source, no matter which one, would give money to improve the lives of Russian citizens, I would be thrilled. I give my own money and I offer those foundations and organizations that want to donate money, do so with me, but directly. So in case — let's suppose — the Central Intelligence Agency of Russia (make it a mix) wants to finance some project on civic engagement in Vladimir that I give resources to, the money from that agency will go to that project directly, not through me. And you will see that in the books of that civic organization».
This person has always been careful with money. Journalist Oleg Lurye has been studying Khodorkovsky's activity for many years. He's certain, the oligarch never forgets about his personal gain.
OLEG LURIE, JOURNALIST: Through Khodorkovsky, they enter Russia. Through a lot of intermediate firms which I can talk about. There are companies in Estonia, in the UK, in the Czech Republic. They are like dumpsters through which he transforms money for the opposition. For certain characters. I'm not talking about all opposition. There are decent people there. But certain characters receive money. He's like a conduit. He receives money from these foundations, like Soros Foundation and so on, and puts that money into Russia.
— So it can be the CIA?
— Most likely, yes, the American intelligence is involved. Right now, he's a transformer. Knowing his greediness, he won't give a penny. Plus, he was greedy when he still had a fortune of 15 or 11 billion. He doesn't have that fortune anymore. So what money? To whom? He'd sooner shoot someone than give up a coin of his money.
Vilnius, Tallinn, Riga, Kiev. These capitals of former Soviet republics became Khodorkovsky's offices. Here he's constantly having meetings, conferences and seminars. There's also entertainment, reflective of the zeitgeist. Like playing Monopoly. This is Tallinn. Only the rules of the famous game Monopoly were slightly adjusted by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
— The game board. With Russian regions. Made like Monopoly. Everyone can become the president of Russia.
— Timur, am I right in thinking that this event is against the current government of Russia?
— Taking out Putin…
— I said everyone can become the president of Russia.
Nikolai, Open Russia Movement Member: «Mikhail Khodorkovsky made it absolutely clear that here we're preparing young politicians, young leaders that are going to replace the obsolete establishment. This is what's important. We need to raise a cohort of people who will come to power, who will ensure honest elections, who will ensure alternation in power, who will ensure those economic, political and other systemic reforms that will help our country on its way to democratic changes.”
Khodorkovsky and his handlers from the West have spent enormous funds to discredit Russian government. To destroy the reputation of top managers in state-owned companies, ministries and regional administrations, they are using exposés, which are no different from propaganda leaflets.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: „I believe that right now I can afford to do the work I'm doing without paying much attention to what is said about me and by whom. That's why today I came out to meet you, because, honestly, I don't care what people say about me. I have a page that I would like to re-write, but it's definitely not something — considering that I cannot be elected — that I should share with the media, all due respect“.
The list of figures to be hit has already been compiled. Compromising material collected. Facts twisted and dealt out. Now it's just waiting for the signal to begin the attack.
The logo of the ICC. Familiar symbols from the ideologue of color revolutions Gene Sharp.
The idea of this enterprise came from the oligarch's CIA consultants. They named it the ICC, the Investigation Control Center. Some sort of joke. Funding comes from Khodorkovsky. Information from the CIA and NSA. Execution by locally hired employees. Konyakhin, a former Kommersant journalist. Kanev, a former NTV correspondent.
OLEG LURIE, JOURNALIST: „Around $200 million have been included in the US budget proposal on counteracting Russia and, the way they love putting it, on promoting democracy in Russia. There's already this line in the US budget proposal. And now it's about to be approved. It's like Christmas for him! He knows there's good money coming. So let's support everything and anything, in every back alley, in every town! We'll be pumping money through this firm. $200 million is a lot of money“.
This chart shows the operation of the propaganda platforms controlled by Khodorkovsky. It includes the vertical and horizontal interactions of these so-called media. Only this type of outlets almost always work by the same scenario, says Gian Micalessin, a famous Italian journalist and a correspondent of Il Giornale.
GIAN MICALESSIN: „The game is always played the same way. They start with corruption. They make corruption look like the country's biggest problem. They call the country's leader corrupt. That's what happened in Georgia. And in Ukraine, too. And in the recent months, we've been seeing a lot of news from the West about the money of Putin and the money of his entourage. This is the first attempt to build a foundation for the opposition. It creates the right movement that accuses Putin and his government of corruption in order to create a semblance of opposition“.
Gian took a risk in pursuit of the truth, trying to add his two words to the murky torrent of European media lies. The journalist filmed a controversial exposé about the Euromaidan, “Ukraine: The Hidden Truth”.
He offered his theory as to who shot protesters and policemen on the Maidan in 2014. The Ukrainian government, and with them, western politicians, blamed the massacre in the center of Kiev on Yanukovich's siloviki, but the journalist named the shooters who have no connection to either Ukrainian, or Russian special forces. According to exclusive information obtained by Micalessin, the order to shoot protesters was given to a specially assembled group of 10 people all of them of Georgian origin, who were led by American instructors. To create the right agenda, all major Ukrainian media had been bribed, says another military correspondent of Il Giornale.
MATTEO CARNIELETTO, JOURNALIST: „Ukraine was an example of a quiet revolution. I was astonished by a member of the Open Society, founded by George Soros, who told me in an interview that this organization sponsored the so-called vanguard of protest groups. What is also disturbing is that Soros, several months before the revolution in Ukraine, paid the Ukrainian television to talk bad about Yanukovich. It's a soft power. A power that acts through information and images. And how do you like the fact that a US representative was openly walking around the Maidan and giving food and water to protesters? Is that a sign of compassion or complicity?“
Kiev, March 2013
The man who started the bank dynasty of the Rothschilds, Nathan Rothschild once said, „He who owns the information, owns the world.“ That became an instruction manual for the so-called globalists.
Under the oversight of the State Department there was created USAID, the US Agency for International Development, an organization that uses non-military methods to replace the regimes undesirable for the US with desirable ones. One of the organizations supported by USAID is OCCRP, a consortium of investigative journalists. The organization was founded by one Drew Sullivan, an American intelligence officer:
DREW SULLIVAN: „Russia is not a democracy. It's nowhere near a democracy. Russia is an autocracy. Of course, people can change something if they decide to. But honestly, I don't think that people of Russia want a change. They like Vladimir Putin. Maybe, they don't like their life now as compared to their life 5 years ago, but he's still supported by the majority of the Russians“.
The base of the newspaper Informer. Chief Editor Dragan Vučićević tried to figure out what OCCRP is. But the pro-American lobby in Belgrade did everything for Vučićević to lose all trials and drop the investigation. He did tell something to us though.
DRAGAN J.VUCICEVIC, EDITOR OF INFORMER: „Because it's the easiest way to control countries and change disobedient regimes. You can easily accuse someone. If you are the US or the EU, and some leader's standing in your way, the way you solve this problem is by saying he's a thief, he's corrupted, he's robbing his people. It's not very complicated. Look how they destroyed Ukraine with similar accusations. Look what they did in Romania with its Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who was taken down on a stupid accusation of tax evasion 25 years ago, when he wasn't even a politician.
Do you see what's going on? They want to overthrow all opposing regimes in Europe with corruption accusations. They're trying to do that in Russia. They're trying to do that in every country that is not close to them or that they suspect of potentially becoming an ally of Russia. That's their modus operandi. Here's another proof of the way all this works. When a citizen, be it a reader of our paper or a viewer of your channel, wants to send information, he sends it openly. But when he wants to send something to OCCRP, he has to resort to spy methods. First, who do we send it to? OCCRP, Sarajevo. Where's the address, the street? Why are they hiding it? When you came to Informer, you went to 5, Terazije Street. But with OCCRP, it's just Sarajevo, just a city. If you want to send them information, it says, “Send an encrypted e-mail.» To send that e-mail, we need to use this key to reach Drew Sullivan. Or this key, so that the e-mail would reach Paul Radu. Why would they do that? Clearly, they have no connection to journalism. That's how secret services operate. That's how spies operate. It's another proof that they are a spy organization."
We decided to find this center in Europe and went to Sarajevo. The Send Us Information page on the official website says the following, «Journalism Development Network. Sarajevo 71000. Bosnia and Herzegovina.» No street, no building. Only the city and the zip code. Turns out, it's not easy to find this organization on the ground. But we've figured out their address. The office is located in the city center. There are no signs or plates. We're going past the security post.
— How can I help you?
— Hi! We're from the channel Russia.
— Do you speak English?
— A little.
Drew Sullivan, Founder of OCCRP
— So we're journalists from Russia.
— What organization?
— TV channel Russia. We know that your organization does investigative journalism. We do investigative journalism too. We wanted to know what problems journalists have to deal with.
— I have a Russian interpreter. You can ask him. He can't let us in because of security reasons.
— Maybe we can talk outside?
Several minutes later, Drew Sullivan came out with a Russian interpreter.
«Put the camera away2.
Our appearance was, to put it mildly, unexpected.
— We publish news reports but we don't give interviews.
— You don't give interviews?
— He believes that your channel is not very friendly toward independent journalists in Russia and, to be honest, he doesn't trust you.
— Because we're Russians. Russophobia.
— He loves Russia. His wife is from Russia.
— I thought we journalists should be open. I got a call from Moscow, saying they cannot find the organization's address. We are making a story about investigative journalism. There'll be a whole block on Malta and on how important it is to unite all journalists in the fight against corruption. If you're concerned with the problem of corruption in Russia, you can say that.
— We have a policy of not giving interviews to certain media outlets that in the past have shown unfriendliness to investigative journalists. But we do cooperate with independent media, including those in Russia.
In Russia, OCCRP has a partner, a contributor to Novaya Gazeta, Roman Anin, born in Moldova. He is often invited to various international forums. People who talk about the problems of their country in fluent English are in big demand there. Here he is, in the company of the founder of Meduza. And here's him talking about Politkovskaya's murder. And here, about corruption in Russia and, of course, about Putin. But not a single word is said about the fees that US donors pay to military journalists.
Our Serbian colleagues, who have been through a color revolution, know this subject really well. Who does the investigations, how and why.
Ljubinka Milinčić, Chief Editor of Sputnik News Agency: „We don't need weapons. We just need to pay several people to start an informational campaign, and that sets things in motion. You can just kick back in your seat and watch as half of the country takes to the streets. Just look at all those springs. The Arab Spring and all the others after that. What happened there? Nobody can remember how it all started. The people on the streets don't even know why they are there. But they have to go there, because there's no justice, because everything's horrible and you can't live in this country anymore. And there you go“.
Yet the US has much more problems that Serbia, Romania, Moldova and Russia combined. Millions of homeless and hungry people who do not have social security. Racial hatred and whole cities of drug addicts, like Camden, for example.
Resident of Camden, New Jersey:
— All of State Street. This is the only street I know where drugs are sold in every block.
— Drugs are sold in every block?
— Yes, exactly. Starting at noon. What time is it now?
— At 11-12 o'clock, you'll see them. Everybody sells drugs, from here to there. Even small kids. Kids sell drugs, 11-12-13 years old. Camden is terrible.
Ljubinka Milinčić: „I think you need to clean up your backyard first and then go to others. Corruption in the US is huge. It's part of the system. And it's not even being disguised. Like, I work in Congress and I lobby someone's interests. It's normal. They do it for a lot of money. Those who have more money, have more success. Is this not corruption? We do have corruption. And I'm sure, each of those countries has corruption, but we should fight it ourselves“.
But the fight against corruption in Russia is just a cover for Khodorkovsky. His main goal is to screw over the country by any means necessary. And in this personal fight of the former oligarch and the president of Russia, all's fair.
His cynicism manifested in the story with the three journalists who died in the Central African Republic. They went to Africa at the order of the Investigation Control Center which we've mentioned several times already. The trip was financed by Khodorkovsky.
OLEG LURIE, JOURNALIST: „There are several interesting points here. First, why did they go to supposedly investigate a Russian PMC, Wagner? There are French and British private military companies there too. But they weren't interested in them. That's one thing. Another thing is that their trip was a huge gamble. It was basically a suicide, the way it was all organized. They were barely given any money. $8,000 is nothing. Judging from their correspondence, they were even asked to save money on the hotel. They didn't have press accreditation. Their accreditation was expired“.
The journalists came to one of the most dangerous countries in the world without press accreditation. After they were murdered, Khodorkovsky promptly announced that he will no longer finance the ICC and the head of the project Konyakhin resigned. The oligarch needed to put this subject to rest and deflect the blame from himself to the Russian government. He was doing that quickly, nervously and sloppily.
OLEG LURIE, JOURNALIST: „No one knew their itinerary, except for the ICC that they stayed in touch with. The ICC means Khodorkovsky. Plus, when they died, Khodorkovsky was the first one to announce that on Twitter. I don't know if he deleted that tweet or not, but he said, “I received information from the Central African Republic that the journalists are dead.» I'm sorry, but how did you, sitting in London, get that information? From the CAR! The whole country has three spots with phone signal. Means, he was well informed. That's one thing. And then the covering-up started. The ICC was shut down. There's no ICC anymore. The Investigation Control Center. What a name, huh? So it disappears, everyone runs away. There's nothing left, not even a paper trail".
And another important detail. 20 years ago, oligarchs wanted to turn Russian Federation into a confederation. It would've been better for their business. The idea came from Berezovsky and was supported by Khodorkovsky. That's when a law on production sharing agreements came to life.
MIKHAIL KHAZIN, ECONOMIST: «The plan was to seize all Russian mineral deposits. And the production sharing law was formulated in such a way that the Russian Duma, liberal at the time, would give out all Russian fields to foreign companies. And it did approve — for money, obviously — a huge amount of laws, which in the end didn't go through. And basically, that resulted in only two agreements. One of them is the famous Sakhalin which Putin shut down and insisted it was modified. But in general, the plan was to seize all resources. And these agreements implied the following, „Guys, we agree to give up everything outside Russian borders.“ That's what Condoleezza Rice talked about when she was the US Secretary of State. She said, „Russia's interests end at Russian borders“.
But under this informal agreement — I don't know whether it was ever put on paper, but it definitely wasn't official. So unofficially it went like this, „What's inside is yours, but if you sell us something inside, it's ours“.
Khodorkovsky, his accomplices and his handlers want to drag us back into the 90s. They need to get back capitals, profits and power. And if that means destroying the country, turning the federation into a confederation of half-independent quasi-states all over Russia, paying up the foreigners with natural resources, putting nuclear weapons and power industry under NATO's control, and starting a civil war in Moscow and St Petersburg to get his share of the pie and rule the remains of the country under the able leadership of Washington, then the ends justify the means.
DMITRY GOLOLOBOV, FORMER HEAD OF LAW AT YUKOS: „Many people have forgotten it, and the young generation hasn't even seen it. For people over 25, it's as foreign as the Count of Monte Cristo. I'll say it again. One person, very close to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, told me that he'd never go to Russia if Mikhail Khodorkovsky became its president because compared to him, Putin is a reflective democrat. That person told me that Mikhail Khodorkovsky would easily put Russia knee-high in blood. I believe him. It's my personal opinion. I'm gonna stress it, in case you air this, that this is my personal opinion, but I believe that considerations are not something Khodorkovsky…“
— Would have.
— I don't have any doubt about that. Oligarchs are not that kind of people.
FILM BY ARKADY MAMONTOV