Friday, November 7, 2003

Khodorkovsky the oligarch

russia > economy > mafia wars
Matt Taibbi describes what's really happening between Putin and Khodorkovsky with the latter's arrest. As a companion piece I offer you this prime example of the interpretation of a mafia showdown as an ideological battle, kind of shocking in its unabashed adoration of a bloody mobster who stole everything he has ever owned, leaving a not insignificant trail of dead people behind him, written before Khodorkovsky's arrest but after the prosecutors were after him, excerpt:

I have no expertise on the story of his meteoric rise from Komsomol (communist youth) leader, to the founder of Menatep bank, to oil baron though people who have studied his career say that he has fewer skeletons in his cupboard than many oligarchs.
What I am sure of is that today, in strict utilitarian terms, Khodorkovsky is a force for good in Russia. He gives direct and indirect support to a range of organizations and individuals that are trying to raise the standards of Russian capitalism, civil society and democracy. He wants to make Russia more western, which in my view is exactly what it needs.
Whatever his past, I am convinced that he now believes in his own rhetoric on the need to promote civil society in Russia.

A hilarious read especially the part where MK includes Zhirinovsky among the forces of Russian "civil society", along with the communists and Yabloko.

Meanwhile, Pravda reports that MK might be the Russian Communist Party's presidential candidate: more proof that Zyuganov is an idiot.
Putin has suffered not an iota from all this, as the oligarchs are hardly popular among the Russians anyway: see this rather pro-Putin piece by N.Gvosdev in the National Review regarding his possible strategy.

Background reading: Mark Ames, 1999, on Khodorkovsky's rise to power:

So where did this oil magnate get his start? Did he rise up through the ranks of the great Soviet oil industry? Maybe he worked in related chemicals or the energy sector? Well, no.
Here's a wild guess: he made his first bucks using his connections as a Komsomol [Communist Youth League] leader to sell Russian girls to rich Westerners? Bingo!

Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky disinfopedia entry.
Taibbi on Russian privatization, 1999 including a 15 step guide to successful privatization in Russia.

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