In 2003, Russian oligarch and former head of “YUKOS Oil” company, Khodorkovsky was one of the most richest businessmen in the world, ranked 16th on the “Forbes” list.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky who tried to made Russia more than “democratic” , was arrested on October 25, 2003 to appear before investigators as a witness, but within hours of being taken into custody he was charged with fraud. The government under Vladimir Putin had frozen shares of “YUKOS” shortly thereafter on tax charges.
I prefer to compare the Mr.Khodorkovsky with Scisseron, in fact Scisseron gave a battle against Athenian dictator, but Khodorkovsky tried to cross the border. When Vladimir Putin became the President of Russian Federation, he was afraid those two things : Mass Media and Russian oligarchs who have a great influence in the State Parliament and political life of the country. Specially necessary to note, in 2003 V. Putin couldn’t control the power wholly.
Thats why he determined “If I could remove the most powerful oligarch from the game, others may become loyal to me”. In February 2003, at a televised meeting at the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky argued with Putin about corruption. He implied that major government officials were accepting millions in bribes. Putin privately told Lord John Browne, the former head of BP, “I have eaten more dirt than I need to from that man.”
It is very interesting that, till his arrest Mr. Khodorkovsky was not popular figure, but after his arrest ex-head of company became the most political prisoner in Russia and in the west.
Khodorkovsky’s company – “YUKOS” was one of the world’s largest non-state oil companies, producing 20% of Russian oil—about 2% of the world production. In 1996 the majority of Yukos shares (90%) were bought by Group Menatep in a series of auctions. At the time Yukos, as most other Russian energy companies, was badly affected by the economic recession in the 1990s. After the beginning of great accusations period, Khodorkovsky determined to a merge with “SIBNEFT”.
In 2003 the Ministry of the Russian Federation of Taxes and tax comission has spent repeated check ”YUKOS” concerning payment of taxes in 2000-2003. As a result of this check Russian Office of Public Prosecutor has imposed the largest fines in the history of “YUKOS” company. After 2003,“YUKOS” was broken up, it transferred to state oil company.
In the Western media and the Russian opposition media the high-profile arrest of Khodorkovsky is usually attributed to his activism in the Russian political process. On October 31, 2003 shortly after the arrest of the company’s CEO, the Russian government had frozen ownership of 44% of the company’s shares.
When the process started, Putin’s adviser Ustinov sent letter to Novosibirsk to Khodorkovsky that, he had to back to Moscow within 24 hours or he will arrest. Khodorkovsky rejected this warning. That’s why arrested in Novosibirsk in his own plane by officers of Ministry of National Security and transferred to Moscow. Two weeks later, in the meeting of Ministerial Cabinet at Kremlin opposition was warned with Putin’s words:
“In connection to the arrest head of YUKOS, all speculation and hysteria should cease. And I ask you not to drag the government into this debate”