PDA

View Full Version : Russia hits back over oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky



David Guyatt
12-28-2010, 12:54 PM
Blimey, Clinton's charges based on recent events is stupendously hypocritical.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/28/mikhail-khodorkovsky-russia


Russia hits back over oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Moscow warns US and Europe to 'mind their own business' as oil tycoon found guilty of theft and money laundering

Tom Parfitt in Moscow
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 28 December 2010 12.30 GMT

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/About/General/2010/12/27/1293445245194/Mikhail-Khodorkovsky-stan-007.jpg
Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands in a Moscow court as a judge reads the verdict in his second trial. Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/REUTERS
Russia's government came out fighting today in response to international criticism over the jailing of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, warning the US and European countries to "mind their own business".

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, issued a statement on Monday saying the oligarch's conviction raised "serious questions about selective prosecution - and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations."

But a foreign ministry spokesman in Moscow said: "Judgements about some kind of selective application of justice in Russia are without foundation." He added: "We are counting on everyone minding his own business – both at home, and in the international arena."

Khodorkovsky, 47, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, 54, were found guilty by a Moscow court yesterday of theft and money laundering, in a trial that critics say is revenge for the tycoon questioning a state monopoly on oil pipelines and propping up political parties that oppose the Kremlin.
Clinton's censure was echoed by politicians in Britain and Germany. Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, urged Moscow to "respect its international commitments in the field of human rights and the rule of law."

Viktor Danilkin, the trial judge, said the two men had been found guilty when he began reading his 250-page verdict yesterday. But their fate remains unclear because sentencing will not take place until he finishes the text, which could take several days.

The Russian foreign ministry spokesman hit back at criticism from abroad, saying that "in connection with statements from Washington and a series of European capitals, we would like to underline once more that this question is a matter for the judicial system of the Russian Federation. Attempts to place pressure on the court are unacceptable."

The trial related to "serious accusations of tax avoidance and laundering of criminally received income. In any country such deeds require criminal punishment. In the United States, by the way, life sentences are given for these acts."

Similar prosecutions were common, the spokesman claimed. "Thousands of cases regarding the responsibilities of entrepreneurs before the law are considered in Russian courts," he said.

The spokesman referred to comments by Dmitry Medvedev on Friday, saying Russia's president had "stressed that nobody has the right to interfere in the prerogatives of the judicial authorities."

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been in jail on earlier fraud and tax evasion charges since 2003. They are due for release next year but prosecutors in the current trial want them to stay in jail until 2017.

Several hundred protesters gathered around the trial court in Moscow's Khamovniki district yesterday shouting, "Shame!" and "Russia without Putin!" as proceedings got under way inside.

Danilkin resumed reading his verdict today as police closed streets around the court to traffic.

Asked about Khodorkvosky's second trial earlier this month, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, replied: "A thief should be in jail."

Khodorkovsky's backers condemned that as open pressure on the court, but Putin later claimed he was referring only to the businessman's first conviction.

In her comments yesterday, Clinton said the case had a "negative impact on Russia's reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations and improving its investment climate."

Keith Millea
12-28-2010, 06:17 PM
Blimey, Clinton's charges based on recent events is stupendously hypocritical.


These days everything that comes out of her mouth is highly hypocritical.Can anyone take her seriously?How can she take herself seriously?

David Guyatt
12-31-2010, 10:31 AM
Another blimey!

The sheer hypocrisy in the opening para is simply staggering:

Click HERE (http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/west-lashes-russia-over-khodorkovsky-sentence-20101231-19bvx.html) for original article.


West lashes Russia over Khodorkovsky sentence
Dmitry Zaks
December 31, 2010 - 9:04PM

Russia was lashed Friday by Western criticism of a court decision to keep Kremlin critic and ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail until 2017 in a case watched as a barometer of the country's democratic progress.

The US State Department and the European Union led a chorus of international condemnation of the sentence delivered Thursday in the second trial of the Yukos oil company founder and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev.

A Moscow judge found the pair -- already in prison since 2003 on tax evasion charges -- guilty of money laundering and embezzlement and extended their jail stay for the six years sought by the prosecution.

Advertisement: Story continues below
The case has been watched by Western governments and rights groups as a test of the country's commitment to the court independence and modernisation championed by President Dmitry Medvedev.

But disappointment echoed across international capitals following a decision that some officials said confirmed their worst fears about Russia.

Washington had been seeking to "reset" a relationship with Moscow that suffered several dark patches during the presidency of Medvedev's strongman predecessor Vladimir Putin.

But the State Department issued an unusually frank assessment of a trial which saw now-premier Putin declare on national television during the process that a "thief must be in prison".

"Simply put, the Russian government cannot nurture a modern economy without also developing an independent judiciary that serves as an instrument for furthering economic growth," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- one of Europe's most regular visitors to Russia -- said she was "disappointed by the verdict against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his tough sentence."

And Germany's Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the sentence "confirmed my worst fears" about Russia.

The European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that "allegations" of irregularities in the court case "are a matter of serious concern and disappointment to us."

But Russia's most famous case since the Soviet era received far less attention in Moscow itself.

The government's official Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily mentioned the outcome in a brief article it placed at the bottom of page three while the only other paper to publish on New Year's Eve -- the Tvoi Den tabloid -- ran a few paragraphs on page four.

The state daily simply listed the charges against Khodorkovsky and inserted the headline: "Sentence Issued".

The brief mention ran a few inches bellow a large photograph of Khodorkovsky's arch-nemesis Putin smiling and toasting the New Year with a group of Russian reporters.

Putin's spokesman also refused to comment on the case Thursday evening as the government wrapped up its work ahead of a winter break festival that runs across the nation through January 10.

Khodorkovsky's supporters have accused the court of purposefully timing the trial so that it would end just as the country's was preparing to celebrates the country's most cherished holiday.

Russia goes on virtual shutdown for the first half of January as offices and stores close and news broadcasts are replaced with non-stop airings of beloved Soviet-era movies.

The sentencing was briefly reported on some of the late Thursday news broadcasts but had entirely vanished from state-controlled television by Friday morning.

Some Russian websites noted that state television appeared more concerned Thursday evening about the death in Saint Petersburg of Bobby Farrell, singer for the 1970s pop group Boney M.

Jan Klimkowski
12-31-2010, 06:01 PM
My emphasis in bold:


Russia was lashed Friday by Western criticism of a court decision to keep Kremlin critic and ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail until 2017 in a case watched as a barometer of the country's democratic progress.

The "oligarchs" looted and stole the resources of Russia from ordinary Russian people during the Chicago Boyz decade of invasion, rape and plunder.

If anyone deserves to spend the rest of their lives in a contempoary Gulag Archipelago it is Khodorkovsky and his oligarch mates.

This case is not a "barometer of (Russia's) democratic progress".

Rather it demonstrates that the oligarchs were always raping and looting Mother Russia on behalf of foreign interests.

Khodorkovsky? Let him rot.

Peter Lemkin
12-31-2010, 06:49 PM
My emphasis in bold:



The "oligarchs" looted and stole the resources of Russia from ordinary Russian people during the Chicago Boyz decade of invasion, rape and plunder.

If anyone deserves to spend the rest of their lives in a contempoary Gulag Archipelago it is Khodorkovsky and his oligarch mates.

This case is not a "barometer of (Russia's) democratic progress".

Rather it demonstrates that the oligarchs were always raping and looting Mother Russia on behalf of foreign interests.

Khodorkovsky? Let him rot.

I have to take issue, in part:
1 - He and one other who had to flee to the UK were the ONLY of those granted a 'license to rob' who broke the rules, laid down overtly by Putin [Godfather of the looting mafia], 'thou shall not get involved in politics'.
2 -The two who were destroyed / to be destroyed both are critical of Putin's political dictatorship!
3 - Not forgiving their greed nor robbery deeds, they did demonstrate IMHO some level of morality in their opposition to Putin, which was articulately stated in more progressive terms, I see as mitigating circumstances on their crimes,
4 - That Czar Putin still pulls the strings on the 'Judiciary" and could delay ther sentence until he could make a public speech in which his orders for the verdict were spelled out is by far the greater crime.
5 - He is not being tried nor convicted for his real crimes [as you stated correctly, and the 'silent' Oligarchs are still committing with impunity], ONLY is he tried and convicted for his political crime of criticizing the Godfather!
6 - So, not denying his crimes; those having committed the same exact crime - but letting Czar/Godfather Putin do as he wishes, unchallenged - are NOT so convicted.

Jan Klimkowski
12-31-2010, 07:44 PM
Peter - I agree that Khodorkovsky was one of a couple of oligarchs who refused to cut a deal with Czar Putin during the counter coup (loosely) against foreign looting and plunder of Mother Russia.

Putin clearly represents Russian deep intelligence and political elements, and is able to use Russian criminal and gangster elements as his implausibly deniable footsoldiers. Putin is also able to reach some sort of "accomodation" with the western military-intelligence-multinational complex, and the links may go very deep.

Putin can be called a dictator.

To those of us with Eyes Wide Open, Putin can also be termed a modern political leader, acutely geopolitically aware, willing to say and do one thing in public whilst displaying ruthless amorality out of the public eye.

However, none of this diminishes the reality that Khodorkovsky is a crook.

As an example, his bank, Menetep, gained control of funds intended for the victims of Chernobyl and allegedly used them to fund the "purchase" of prime Russian assets for a fraction of their true value for private profit and exploitation.

My post above was not a defence of Putin.

It was a critique of Khodorkovsky and western hypocrisy in proclaiming that the treatment of its crooked capitalist son is a "barometer of (Russia's) democratic progress".

Peter Lemkin
12-31-2010, 08:19 PM
Khodorkovsky also became a philanthropist, whose efforts include the provision of internet-training centres for teachers, a forum for the discussion by journalists of reform and democracy, and the establishment of foundations which finance archaeological digs, cultural exchanges, summer camps for children and a boarding school for orphans.[12][13] Khodorkovsky's critics saw this as political posturing, in light of his funding of several political parties ahead of the elections for the State Duma to be held in late 2003.

He is openly critical of what he refers to as 'managed democracy' within Russia. Careful normally not to criticize the elected leadership, he says the military and security services exercise too much authority. He told The Times:
"It is the Singapore model, it is a term that people understand in Russia these days. It means that theoretically you have a free press, but in practice there is self-censorship. Theoretically you have courts; in practice the courts adopt decisions dictated from above. Theoretically there are civil rights enshrined in the constitution; in practice you are not able to exercise some of these rights."

---------------------------------------------------------------------
[While the kettle calling the pot black.......]

WikiLeaks: rule of law in Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial merely 'gloss'

US dismisses Russian efforts to show due process in tycoon's trial, whose verdict is due today, as 'lipstick on a political pig'

Share
88


Tom Parfitt in Moscow
The Guardian, Monday 27 December 2010
Article history

Leaked WikiLeaks cable about the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose picture is brandished at a rally in Moscow, reaffirm US diplomats' view of Russia as a 'kleptocratic mafia state'. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

The trial of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky shows the Kremlin preserves a "cynical system where political enemies are eliminated with impunity", US diplomats say in classified cables released by WikiLeaks today.

Attempts by the Russian government to demonstrate the rule of law is being respected during Khodorkovsky's prosecution are "lipstick on a political pig", says a communique to Washington from the US embassy in Moscow in December 2009.

Khodorkovsky, 47, an oil tycoon who was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to eight years in jail for fraud two years later, will appear in court in Moscow today to hear the verdict in his second trial on embezzlement charges. Supporters of the man once Russia's richest say the Kremlin ordered the prosecutions in revenge for his funding of opposition parties.

Khodorkovsky could get up to six more years in jail at the end of his current sentence in October next year, if convicted. His business partner, Platon Lebedev, faces the same punishment.

While US officials have already publicly criticised the trial, which began in March last year, the baldness of the language in the secret cables is striking.

Writing to Washington in December last year, a political officer in the US embassy in Moscow noted that one international legal expert believes the trial judge is trying to give Khodorkovsky's defence lawyers a chance. However, in a withering assessment, the officer adds: "The fact that legal procedures are apparently being meticulously followed in a case whose motivation is clearly political may appear paradoxical.

"It shows the effort that the GOR [government of Russia] is willing to expend in order to save face, in this case by applying a superficial rule-of-law gloss to a cynical system where political enemies are eliminated with impunity."

The diplomat's assessment reaffirms those made in US cables released earlier by WikiLeaks, in which Russia is described as a kleptocratic "mafia state" in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are inextricably linked.

It refers obliquely to a meeting in 2000 when Vladimir Putin, then still president, met Khodorkovksy and 20 other oligarchs and reportedly warned them to stay out of politics in return for their businesses being left in peace.

"There is a widespread understanding," writes the diplomat, "that Khodorkovsky violated the tacit rules of the game: if you keep out of politics, you can line your pockets as much as you desire."

The officer adds: "It is not lost on either elite or mainstream Russians that the GOR has applied a double standard to the illegal activities of 1990s oligarchs; if it were otherwise, virtually every other oligarch would be on trial alongside Khodorkovsky and Lebedev." At his annual TV question and answer session earlier this month, Putin, now prime minister, brushed off criticism off the trial. Russia had "one of the most humane court systems in the world". He added: "It is my conviction that a thief should be in jail."

Khodorkovsky's Yukos oil company was confiscated and sold to state-controlled firms after his conviction. He fired back on Friday in a letter to Putin published in a Russian newspaper. He pitied Putin, a "not-young person, so upbeat and so alone before a boundless and remorseless country". The premier, said Khodorkovsky, was helmsman of a galley which "sails right over people's destinies" and "over which, more and more, the citizens of Russia seem to see a black pirate flag flying".

Khodorkovksy also mocked Putin's recent television appearances with his new dog, Buffy. "Love of dogs is the only sincere, good feeling that pierces through the icy armour shell of the 'national symbol' of the beginning of the 2000s," he wrote. "A love of dogs has become a substitute for a love of people."

The verdict in Khodorkovsky's trial was due on 15 December but a note pinned on the door of Moscow's Khamovnichesky court that morning said it had been delayed until tomorrow. Some analysts believe the delay was deliberate, in order to deflect media attention over the holiday period.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are accused of embezzling the entire crude oil production of Yukos over a six-year period.

A source close to Khodorkovsky predicted he "would likely remain in prison as long as the Putin administration is in power,", according to the US cables released today. Putin is widely expected to return as president in 2012 and could serve two more terms, until 2024.

Jan Klimkowski
12-31-2010, 08:24 PM
Peter - again, I have little or no respect for capitalist philanthropists.

Philanthropy and charitable giving is primarily a tax dodge by the rich, and secondly enables them to bask in the adoration of their serfs, who are expected to be truly grateful.

Fuck the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Fuck the Soros Foundation. In fact, fuck pretty much every private foundation.

We also know that the supposed charitable actions of many foundations are often cover for deep political operations.

"Philanthropy" using wealth stolen from the masses is not, imo, a noble act.

Peter Lemkin
12-31-2010, 09:28 PM
Peter - again, I have little or no respect for capitalist philanthropists.

Philanthropy and charitable giving is primarily a tax dodge by the rich, and secondly enables them to bask in the adoration of their serfs, who are expected to be truly grateful.

Fuck the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Fuck the Soros Foundation. In fact, fuck pretty much every private foundation.

We also know that the supposed charitable actions of many foundations are often cover for deep political operations.

"Philanthropy" using wealth stolen from the masses is not, imo, a noble act.

Jan, I'm NOT trying to make a 'defense' for him; but only point out he is being targeted for other reasons. For the 'reasons' presented a very large % of anyone above middle class in Russia should be with him in his cell.

Jan Klimkowski
12-31-2010, 09:49 PM
Jan, I'm NOT trying to make a 'defense' for him; but only point out he is being targeted for other reasons. For the 'reasons' presented a very large % of anyone above middle class in Russia should be with him in his cell.

Peter - pax and respect.

Šťastný nový rok! :rockandroll:

Keith Millea
12-31-2010, 11:03 PM
Mike Whitney has a take on this situation.


December 31, 2010 - January 2, 2011
Misjudging Putin

Khodorkovsky's Trip to the Slammer

By MIKE WHITNEY
Vladimir Putin summed it up best when he said, "A thief should sit in jail." Right on. It doesn't matter if he is the richest man in the country or not. If he's done the crime, he's got to do the time. It's that simple.

On Wednesday, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos Oil was sentenced to 14 years in prison for embezzling and money laundering. Heads of state, human rights organisations, business leaders, and the entire western media have all protested on Khodorkovsky's behalf, but to no avail. Khodorkovsky will stay in prison where he belongs. Justice has prevailed.

Khodorkovsky's problems began when he challenged an informal agreement with the Kremlin not to intervene in Russian politics. But the oil oligarch thought Putin was weak, so he strengthened his contacts in Washington and dumped money into parliamentary elections. He unwisely assumed that he could defy Putin and extend his tentacles into politics following the model of corporate control he saw in the United States, where the courts, the congress, the White House and the media are all in the pocket of big business. Only he misjudged Putin and ended up in the hoosegow.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

"Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested on a rented jet in Siberia Oct. 23, 2003, flown to Moscow and jailed on charges of fraud and tax evasion. Just over a year later, Yukos's main subsidiary had been sold at auction to a little-known Russian company that later sold it to the state oil company, OAO Rosneft.
Investors, who watched the market value of Yukos plunge from $40 billion to next to nothing in a matter of months, proved to have short memories. By the summer of 2006, they were lining up to buy stock in Rosneft's initial public offering. The company's main asset had belonged to Yukos."
And, according to Wikipedia:
"Khodorkovsky was charged with acting illegally in the privatisation process of the former state-owned mining and fertiliser company Apatit......In addition, prosecutors conducted an extensive investigation into Yukos for offences that went beyond the financial and tax-related charges. Reportedly there were three cases of murder and one of attempted murder linked to Yukos, if not Khodorkovsky himself....."

When a deep-pocket Robber Barron is charged with a crime, everyone comes to their aid, including "the Italian Parliament, the German Bundestag, and the U.S. House of Representatives". But Khodorkovsky is guilty. The Russian court got it right. The rest is just propaganda.

The portrayal of Khodorkovsky as an "innocent victim of a justice system run amok" borders on the ridiculous. Take a look at this comical article in the Economist ominously titled "The Trial, Part Two". Here's an excerpt:

"The transformation of Mr Khodorkovsky from a ruthless oligarch, operating in a virtually lawless climate, into a political prisoner and freedom fighter is one of the more intriguing tales in post-communist Russia....In this narrow sense, indeed, the imprisoned Mr Khodorkovsky might be compared to the exiled Andrei Sakharov in the 1980s. Both Mr Khodorkovsky and Sakharov, an eminent nuclear physicist, chose a thorny path. And both of these one-time political prisoners then, in effect, took their persecutors and jailers hostage. Just as Mikhail Gorbachev's talk of perestroika, opening up and new thinking, rang hollow until the moment when he allowed Sakharov to come home, so any talk by the Kremlin of the rule of law or about modernisation will be puffery so long as Mr Khodorkovsky remains in jail." (The Economist)
So now the cutthroat scamster Khodorkovsky is Andrei Sakharov? One might think that the Economist would worry that such claptrap would damage its credibility, but apparently not. Apparently, nothing matters quite as much as springing their felonious friends from prison.

The Obama administration has also interceded on Khodorkovsky's behalf even before the verdict was delivered. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the US was troubled by "what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends".

"The apparent selective application of the law to these individuals undermines Russia's reputation as a country committed to deepening the rule of law."
Gibbs failed to note how many crooked CEOs or CFOs of major Wall Street firms have been investigated, indicted, prosecuted, arrested, tried, or convicted?
So far, that number is zero. So much for the Obama administration's commitment to the rule of law.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also put in her two-cents saying that a conviction would have a "negative impact on Russia's reputation."
Right. This is the same Hillary Clinton who has thrown her support behind the Patriot Act, the intrusive/illegal TSA "pat downs", the limitless detention of terror suspects, increased surveillance of US citizens, and the de facto repeal of habeas corpus.

Clinton's credibility on civil liberties is zilch.

Imagine what it would be like to live in a country where the rich had to play by the same rules as everyone else? Presumably, one would have to move to Russia. There is no expectation of justice in the US today. None.
Khodorkovsky was convicted because he's a crook and because the Russian justice system is less corrupt than the one in the US. His incarceration is a victory for the people who want to see the law applied fairly regardless of how rich someone is.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney12312010.html

David Guyatt
01-01-2011, 10:28 AM
The background to the Yukos story seems to me to be a classic case of a battle between certain western nations oil interests (notably ConocoPhillips) and Russia interests to control Russian oil assets.

There were all sorts of background spook machinations (American and German to my personal knowledge) involved in this game prior to Putin taking effective control and putting Khodorkovsky in the slammer.

Thereafter the message went out:

"Houston, we have a problem".

David Guyatt
01-16-2011, 03:26 PM
ooh, er. I just had a thought.

You don't think...

Nah.

But knowing how long it takes to negotiate a deal of this size before bringing it to market, you don't suppose that the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is in any way related?

Nah.

Couldn't be.

Texan oil companies are internationally famous for their purity and above-board honesty to engage in any sort of covert hanky-panky.

American hostility grows over BP's deal with Russian state oil company (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/16/american-hostility-bp-deal-russia)


American hostility grows over BP's deal with Russian state oil company
Politicians voice fears over Alaska pipelines, Gulf payouts and risk of Kremlin influence on major supplier to US military

Andrew Clark and Tim Webb
The Observer, Sunday 16 January 2011

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/1/15/1295102848018/BP-and-Rosneft-announceme-007.jpg
BP's chief executive Bob Dudley, front left, energy secretary Chris Huhne, centre, and Rosneft's chief executive Eduard Khudainatov, front right, at the announcement of the Arctic alliance on Friday. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA
Britain's leading oil company, BP, is facing hostility and suspicion from the US over an alliance with the Russian state oil firm Rosneft that opens up vast areas of untapped wilderness off the coast of Siberia and beneath the Arctic shelf.

Endorsed by both countries' prime ministers, David Cameron and Vladimir Putin, the tie-up gives Rosneft a 5% stake in BP, while the London-based company will increase its stake in the Russian firm from 1.3% to 10.8%. It will give the Kremlin a slice of ownership of BP's global operations, which stretch from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, north Africa, Azerbaijan and the North Sea.

BP's chief executive, Bob Dudley, hailed the arrangement, signed on Friday night, as a "historic moment for Rosneft, the BP and for the global energy industry generally", and described it as a "new template" for the way international oil exploration can take place. Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, who chairs Rosneft, suggested that among BP's attractions were "knowledge and experience" accrued from last year's disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move, which involves BP issuing 988m new shares to Rosneft worth £4.9bn, has gone down badly in the US, coming just days after a presidential commission published a damning report on the blunders leading up to the Deepwater spill. In Washington, the US state department is facing calls to investigate whether the Russian government's links with BP posed national security issues.

"There are various different levels where this deserves some analysis and some scrutiny," said Michael Burgess, a Republican congressman who sits on the House energy and commerce committee. "BP is one of the biggest suppliers to our military. Are there national security implications to this deal?"

Burgess pointed out that BP runs sensitive trans-Alaskan oil pipelines and that the group's BP America subsidiary is regulated as a US company. Comparing the deal to the blocked purchase by Dubai Ports World of P&O's US ports in 2006, he called for an inquiry by the US government's committee on foreign investment, which is chaired by treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and has a mandate to scrutinise potentially threatening financial incursions into the US.

His remarks followed comments by a Democratic congressman, Ed Markey, who suggested BP now stood for "Bolshoi Petroleum" and claimed that the Rosneft tie-up could complicate the collection of compensation for the fishing industry hit by the Deepwater spill.

BP's eastward manoeuvre puts the British company in pole position for exploration of more than 125,000 sq km of potentially oil-rich seabed beneath the South Kara Sea off the coast of western Siberia – an area the size of the North Sea. The Russians are keen to get their hands on BP's technical expertise, and co-operation will be extended to ventures off the north-eastern frontier of Siberia and even in oil refineries in Germany. The two partners will establish an Arctic technology centre to develop new techniques for the safe extraction of oil.

"This has the blessing of the Russian government for BP to get access to some additional resource," said Philip Weiss, an energy analyst at Argus Research. "Because of the uncertainty in the Gulf [of Mexico], that's probably even more important for BP."

Any exploration in the Arctic, however, will face opposition from environmentalists. Charlie Kronick, senior climate adviser to Greenpeace, said: "There's a view from the oil industry, and from governments too, that we absolutely have to go for every last drop of oil, regardless of how damaging it is to get out."

Pointing to the Russian government's 75% stake in Rosneft, he added that politics and business are "very, very closely bound" in Russia, which could put BP in a sensitive position in the event of future posturing on energy by the Kremlin, which cut gas supplies to Ukraine two years ago in a dispute over pricing.

BP's links to Russia go back two decades. It already operates a joint venture there – TNK-BP – although Dudley has a chequered personal history in the country: he left in 2008 after having his work permit revoked following a bitter dispute with local partners. Dudley played this down at Friday evening's signing ceremony: "I never regarded my experiences at TNK-BP as anything other than an extended business discussion."

Russia's prime minister has adopted a sympathetic view over the Deepwater spill. Sources say Putin was angry about BP's treatment by US politicians and was supportive of Dudley's predecessor, Tony Hayward, who lost his job over a string of ill-considered remarks, including a comment that he wanted to get his "life back" in the wake of the disaster, which killed 11 people.

Putin said this weekend that he did not consider BP solely to blame for the incident: "Our experts have scrutinised the tragedy: we know that BP was the organiser of the project, but there were also eight subcontractors, including major US companies."

Analysts say having the Kremlin on board would make it harder for another company to take over BP, which is selling off assets partly in response to the spill. It emerged this month that Shell discussed launching a takeover bid last summer should a US rival table an offer for BP.

Public vitriol could prompt Congress to call hearings over BP's tie-up with Rosneft. But some have expressed cynicism over the motivation for the outrage. "Sometimes politicians say things that make no sense," said Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co in New York. "Has Russia declared war on us? Not to my knowledge."

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, took part in handshakes to mark the agreement at BP's London head office. Huhne said that Russia accounts for nearly a fifth of the world's gas production and 13% of global oil output, which, he said, was vitally important in the medium term despite the government's aspiration to a low-carbon future.

"BP, as well all know, is coming out of a difficult period in its history," said Huhne. "This partnership shows BP is very much open for business."

David Guyatt
02-02-2011, 10:24 AM
Crooks squabble continues...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/01/bp-loss-gulf-oil-spill-resumes-dividend


Court order halts BP talks with Rosneft

• TNK-BP partners succeed gaining injunction
• BP makes first annual loss since 1992
• Firm sets aside $41bn to cover spill costs
• Half US refining capacity, including Texas City, to be sold
• Fourth-quarter dividend of 7 cents in line with expectations

Tim Webb and Tom Bawden
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 February 2011 20.18 GMT

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Business/Business_competitions/pictures/2011/2/1/1296547322251/BP-007.jpg
Workers in Louisiana clear oil from beaches after the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

BP was today forced to put on hold its controversial new alliance with Kremlin-controlled oil company Rosneft after its rival Russian partners won an injunction against the proposed deal.

After a day of drama in the high court, the billionaire oligarchs who own half of BP's existing TNK-BP Russian joint venture, won an injunction preventing the UK oil major from completing its share swap with Rosneft. It is also banned from continuing negotiations about forming a joint venture to explore the Russian Arctic together.

BP will now start formal arbitration proceedings in Sweden within days in an attempt to resolve the dispute with the billionaires' AAR consortium.

BP's new chief executive Bob Dudley, who earlier today announced that BP would resume dividend payments for the first time since the Gulf of Mexico spill, suggested TNK-BP could still be offered a role in its new Rosneft alliance: "We were always intending to offer them the opportunity. There may be a resolution, a financial or strategic decision for TNK-BP."

But the court injunction, coming a day after AAR voted to withhold TNK-BP's $1.8bn (£1.1bn) dividend in protest over the Rosneft deal, has dealt a major blow to Dudley's attempts to remould BP.

The injunction applies until 25 February. If arbitration, a procedure outlined in BP's shareholder agreement with AAR, does not resolve the dispute, the Russian oligarchs plan to apply for an extension to the injunction. Stan Povolets, chief executive of AAR, said that the court decision "confirms the moral and legal justification of our position".

AAR claims that the Rosneft alliance contravenes its shareholder agreement – which it says requires BP to offer TNK-BP first refusal on any business opportunities in Russia.

The developments overshadowed BP's annual results, which were also unveiled today. The company announced a loss of $4.9bn for the year, its first loss for 19 years because of the Gulf spill costs. The estimated cost of the spill has risen by $1bn to $40.9bn.

BP also said it would restore a dividend payout. However, the fourth-quarter payment will be 7¢ a share, half the level before last April's Gulf spill. Because BP and Rosneft have not completed the share swap, neither will be entitled to receive each other's dividends.

Dudley said that BP would sell half its refining capacity in the US as the company focuses on exploration. The refineries to be sold are Carson in California and Texas City, where 15 workers died in an explosion in 2005. He also scrapped BP's old production targets, saying the company would focus on "quality not quantity".

At a press conference Dudley attempted to downplay the dispute with AAR.

"We have and we are going to meet all our obligations in the shareholder agreement. I've said let's go for arbitration as fast track as you like. I continue to think this is a commercial matter which will be resolved in a business way."

Dudley admitted that AAR was "very surprised" when the share swap with Rosneft was announced, the details of which had to be kept secret because they were share price sensitive, he said. He added that details of the Rosneft alliance were sent to AAR last Thursday – almost two weeks after the deal was unveiled.

Sources close to AAR said tonight that the documents contained no new information beyond what BP had already disclosed to the market.

Dudley added that TNK-BP, which accounts for about a quarter of BP's total production, did not have the skills or expertise for offshore drilling. It is thought that the agreement with Rosneft gives BP two years to hold exclusive negotiations with the Russian company about exploring the Arctic.

Dudley also responded to leaked US embassy cables, published by the Guardian, which reported that BP's top executive in Russia predicted that the TNK-BP subsidiary would be carved up by the end of this year by Rosneft and fellow state controlled energy company Gazprom: "I do not have those fears. All I can promise is my belief that that won't happen."

Dudley said that BP was seeking "new kinds of relationships" with national oil companies with access to large oil and gas reserves. He pointed out that international oil companies like BP now only had access to 9% of the world's oil and gas reserves compared to 90% in 1970. "The role of an international oil company [IOC] is taking technical know how … and working with NOCs [national oil companies]. If an IOC can't do that it does not have a future."

He denied that alliances such as the Rosneft deal exposed BP to new and greater political risk. "We have a partnership with a state controlled company Rosneft. Some people may say that is not a basis for risk. There are lots of risky countries where oil companies operate."

He also added that the company would continue to pump more oil than gas which would distinguish it from rivals like Shell which will soon be producing more gas. The International Energy Agency says that "big oil" companies are having to reinvent themselves as gas producers because many governments are denying them access to develop their oil resources.

Gulf legacy ever present

BP's latest Russian adventure has at least shifted some of the attention away from last April's Gulf of Mexico disaster. But the legacy remains ever present, despite Dudley's attempts to draw a line under the affair that led to his taking charge after the departure of Tony Hayward.

Today, Dudley committed BP to spending more on deep water exploration, including in the Arctic. Asked if this was appropriate, given the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Dudley said BP would be "irresponsible" not to apply the lessons it says it has learned.

"After the events of the Gulf of Mexico spill, BP has a choice of stepping back and saying 'we lose confidence and we lose the ability to operate this [deep water] technology'," he said. "We do not think this is right. We think it would be even irresponsible not to take these lessons into the company's operations and into other companies around the world."

The number of barrels of oil that spewed into the Gulf also remains to be resolved. Tony Hayward got into hot water when the Guardian reported his comments that the amount was "relatively tiny" in relation to the "very big ocean".

The US government later released an estimate from scientists of 4.9m barrels, which would make it the world's largest offshore accidental spill. BP is contesting this number.

Dudley said BP believes the amount of oil flowing rose as the company removed debris in the attempt to cap the well. "No one exactly knows what the estimate of the spill will be," he said. BP would need to examine the blow-out preventer to get a more definite answer. If the official estimate is reduced, the fines on BP – partly on a per-barrel basis – will be reduced.

Magda Hassan
02-07-2011, 11:55 AM
http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Cyril-Tuschi.jpg (http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Cyril-Tuschi.jpg)Cyril Tuschi, photo Lucy Komisar

The final edit of a film about the jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a film to which I contributed, was stolen Thursday from the offices of German director Cyril Tuschi.
The documentary, “Khodorkovsky (http://www.german-docs.com/films/44014),” is to have its world premier at the Berlin International Film Festival Feb. 14. I did reporting for the film and also was video-interviewed for it.
It was the second theft. A few weeks ago, when Tuschi was in Bali on a working vacation to finish the film, his laptop with the version he was editing was filched from his hotel room.
http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Khodorkovsky-film-poster.jpg (http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Khodorkovsky-film-poster.jpg)The movie (http://www.rezofilms.com/world-sales/khodorkovsky), mostly in English, tells Khodorkovsky’s story from his days in the Communist youth, where he got the cash to set up a bank, to the build-up of his oil empire and his political challenge to then President Vladimir Putin. Putin had told the “oligarchs,” men who had stolen the Russian patrimony to build their wealth, that he wouldn’t bother them as long as they stayed out of politics. Khodorkovsky, however, sought to influence the Duma election. He was arrested in 2003 and then tried and jailed for tax evasion.
The film is generally sympathetic to Khodorkovsky, with a lot of footage of his family, friends and associates (I think he overdoes that) and an extraordinary interview that Tuschi got while his subject was in court. It also includes interviews with people who explain that the man was really a crook. Not enough of that. I would have been tougher.
Based on my research and evidence, Khodorkovsky did indeed get his Yukos oil empire by fraud and also evaded taxes. So did many other current titans of industry who made their deals with Putin and were not targeted.
http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Cyril-Tuschis-bldg.jpg (http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Cyril-Tuschis-bldg.jpg)The former Berliner Handwerker Verein, photo Lucy Komisar

Two computer hard drives and two laptops with the final version of Tuschi’s film were stolen Thursday night from his offices in an old brick building near the popular Hackescher Markt in former East Berlin.
The complex was once the Berliner Handwerker Verein (Berlin Craftsmen’s Association), its name in a relief above the front gate, and a grubby back building has four or five floors of spaces used by film makers and other artists. Because so many people have keys to the building and come and go at all hours, it is not very secure. Berlin police are investigating.
The Berlin International Film Festival has an earlier version of the film, without German subtitles, which it will screen if the later copies are not recovered.
Khodorkovsky, who was to be released this year after eight years in prison, was just sentenced to another six years behind bars. That makes the film timely, but also a target for interests who want it suppressed.
http://thekomisarscoop.com/2011/02/a-russian-spook-operation-khodorkovsky-film-mysteriously-stolen-twice/

Jan Klimkowski
02-07-2011, 06:29 PM
The film is generally sympathetic to Khodorkovsky, with a lot of footage of his family, friends and associates (I think he overdoes that) and an extraordinary interview that Tuschi got while his subject was in court. It also includes interviews with people who explain that the man was really a crook. Not enough of that. I would have been tougher.
Based on my research and evidence, Khodorkovsky did indeed get his Yukos oil empire by fraud and also evaded taxes. So did many other current titans of industry who made their deals with Putin and were not targeted.

Hmmm - so who stole the film?

Russian goons?

Or Khodorkovsky's goons?

It also sounds like a technically illiterate theft. To steal a "film", in today's world of digital editing, the thieves would need to steal the master source films and tapes. Stealing a cut film is a huge and expensive irritation for the filmmakers, but so long as a back up of the digital edit code is saved somewhere, the finished film can be reconstituted.

Bizarre.

Which begs the question: is this simply a marketing ploy?

Magda Hassan
02-07-2011, 08:49 PM
I wondered if it was that too Jan. Or perhaps some one just wanted to make sure what was in it before everyone else got to see it. Forewarned as to it contents. But yes, bizarre.

Jan Klimkowski
02-07-2011, 09:48 PM
I wondered if it was that too Jan. Or perhaps some one just wanted to make sure what was in it before everyone else got to see it. Forewarned as to it contents. But yes, bizarre.

Yes - I agree.

If it was stolen, then this wasn't to suppress the film for the reasons I articulated in post #16.

So, the two main possibilities are presumably that the digital cut was stolen so that a certain party (eg Russian intelligence) had detailed advance knowledge of its contents, or that it's a marketing ploy to increase the notoriety (and presumed truthfulness) of the film.