Tuesday, November 24, 2009

With Friends Like George H.W. Bush, James Baker and the Carlyle Group...

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is on trial again in Russia. This means his worldwide PR operation, always operating aggressively, is now working double time.

One result of the Khodorkovsky PR push is a feature article in New York Times Magazine

Khodorkovsky has been sitting in a Russian slammer for the last six years for basically being an oligarch who, before his first trial, openly challenged then-President Vladimier Putin. With his release set to occur in less than two years, it is time for new charges. Which Russian authorities have dutifully brought. The NYT article provides a profile of Khodorkovsky's career and provides a glimpse into perhaps why he thought he could challenge Putin:
Even as Putin sought to curb the oligarchs, Khodorkovsky expanded his influence by new means...In the months before his arrest, he courted the administration of George W. Bush and power brokers like James Baker. His foundation recruited Henry Kissinger and Lord Rothschild for its board. He financed policy groups in D.C. and human rights activists at home, and to the joy of Laura Bush, he gave a million dollars to the Library of Congress. He joined the Carlyle Group’s Energy Advisory board, serving alongside Baker, and met — on separate occasions — with the elder Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In Houston, Khodorkovsky dangled a 40 percent chunk of Yukos before the oilmen — the sale would have fetched billions and, possibly, ensured protection from the state. But in 2003, in a brazen affront, Khodorkovsky started to finance opposition political parties. Then that fall, he completed a megamerger, the union of Yukos and Sibneft, another Russian major, to create the world’s fourth-largest oil company. His rise was nearly complete.
But he was arrested before he could complete any deal in Houston. In other words, he became worthless to the Bush good old boy network. Kordo who? They ditched him faster than Bill Clinton ditched Monica Lewinsky. Obama and McCain have done more for him than Bush's boys. NYT again:

Deliverance, Khodorkovsky and his legal team believe, might lie in the West. In the aftermath of Khodorkovsky’s arrest, President Bush fell silent, and many old friends ran for cover, but in 2005, Senator Barack Obama co-sponsored, with John McCain and Joe Biden, Senate Resolution 322..declaring that “it is the sense of the Senate that the criminal-justice system in Russia has not accorded” Khodorkovsky and Lebedev “fair, transparent and impartial treatment.” After Obama’s inauguration, as the new president pledged to hit the “reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations, the oligarch’s lawyers and lobbyists waited nervously. In July, on the eve of his first Moscow summit, President Obama offered a surprise.

“It does seem odd to me,” Obama told Novaya Gazeta, the last genuine newspaper in Russia, “that these new charges, which appear to be a repackaging of the old charges, should be surfacing now, years after these two individuals have been in prison and as they become eligible for parole.” The president cushioned it — “I would just affirm my support for President Medvedev’s courageous initiative to strengthen the rule of law in Russia.” But to Russian ears, Obama’s statement resounded like a slap in Putin’s face.
So in the end it appears that Khodorkovsky money has gotten the attention of Obama. Money which obviously wasn't enough to keep the attention of the Bush players. The Bush boys are obviously tough SOB's. One day you are negotiating a huge oil deal with them, the next you end up in the slammer, and they don't know who you are.

The stay out of jail card is apparently used only for much closer kin.

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