Wednesday, June 1

Mikhail Khodorkovsky bemoans Russian justice, Anne Williamson tries to map Hell

May 31, 2005: Khodorkovsky, Lebedev Decry Russian System of Justice
Khodorkovsky's attorneys said the prosecution provided no evidence that there was a criminal group beyond asserting that Group Menatep, a holding company with the major block of shares in Yukos, was itself such a conspiracy. They noted that the only evidence submitted to the court was the fact that Menatep had a Web site, a phone list and a memo discussing the diversification of investments.

"General Motors is a criminal group under those criteria," said John Pappalardo, one of Khodorkovsky's international lawyers.
14 May 2004--Group MENATEP Announces Appointment of New Directors
Group MENATEP, the international diversified holding company that controls assets in excess of US$ 30 billion, including a substantial stake in YUKOS oil company, has announced the appointment of three new managing directors who will jointly manage the operations of the company following the death of Mr Stephen Curtis.
High Intrigue Surrounds Death of Menatep head
Stephen Curtis, the British lawyer who was made managing director of Yukos Oil’s parent company, Group Menatep, last November, became an informant of Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) just days before dying in a helicopter accident, the Independent reports. Citing an investigation by Channel 4 News, the British newspaper writes that a high-level police inquiry is investigating whether the crash that killed him near Bournemouth on March 3rd [2004] "really was an accident."

According to documents shown to Channel 4 News, Curtis, a close confidant of jailed former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, drew up structures for Yukos’s offshore oil trading business back in 1999 that helped the company avoid taxes. Russia’s Tax Ministry has presented Yukos with a bill of $3.5 billion for unpaid taxes in 2000 and resulting fines.
Khodorkovsky's lawyer who mysteriously died worked for British Intelligence
The mysterious lawyer Mikhail Khodorkovsky brought in to run his empire after he and his partner were jailed last year became an informant for British intelligence only days before he died in a fiery helicopter crash, according to British media reports.

The lawyer, Stephen Curtis, who was the mastermind of the vast web of offshore structures that eventually became Group Menatep, received death threats on a daily basis and feared for his life in the weeks before he died, the Independent newspaper and Channel 4 television reported over the weekend, citing unidentified friends of Curtis...

Curtis was appointed managing director of Group Menatep, the parent company of Yukos, Russia's most valuable oil company, in November, shortly after Khodorkovsky was arrested on charges of tax evasion and fraud. Platon Lebedev, Khodorkovsky's longtime partner and Curtis' predecessor at Menatep, was arrested on similar charges in July. Both men, who are still awaiting trial, deny the charges.

Curtis, who had a long history of involvement with influential businessmen in the Middle East, had been involved with Menatep since 1997 and was instrumental in creating the holding's complicated offshore network, according to documents obtained by The Moscow Times.

According to Channel 4, Curtis approached Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service with an offer "to provide them with information," but he only managed to meet with his NCIS handler on two occasions before he died...

Channel 4 reported that friends of Curtis' said he was receiving death threats by telephone daily and was considering selling his London penthouse because it was too well-known.

Group Menatep spokesman Yury Kotler called Curtis' death a "huge loss," but said that he had not heard that Curtis was receiving death threats. He declined to comment further.
September 21, 1999: The Rape of Russia by Anne Williamson.*
The following is Anne Williamson's testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives, presented Sept. 21, 1999. It shows how the historic opportunity given the U.S. to help transform Russia into a free, peaceful, pro-Western country was squandered in the form of a bruising economic rape carried out by corrupt Russian politicians and businessmen, assisted by Bush [41] and (especially) Clinton administrations engaged in political payoffs to Wall Street bankers and others, and by ineptitude and greed on the part of the U.S. Treasury and the Harvard Institute for International Development, assisted by fellow travelers and manipulators at Nordex, the IMF, the World Bank, and the Federal Reserve. The losers were the Russian people and (mainly) U.S. taxpayers...
May 27, 2005: Excerpt from comments made by a forum of experts on the Khodorkovsky/Yukos affair conducted by Peter Lavelle at Untimely Thoughts:
It is clear that something like the Khordorkovsky/ Yukos affair was bound to happen. It was simply inherent in the logic of Russia’s transition.

On the one hand, we see a massive concentration of economic/financial resources in Russia’s energy sector, with added geo-political benefits for those controlling it. On the other, an unbridled lawlessness and vaporization of the state, where nothing could resist the raw power of money. It was impossible to expect Russia’s oligarchs and their foreign allies not to attempt to buy the collapsed superpower wholesale. Khodorkovsky/ Yukos simply pursued this logic most daringly.

Equally, it is inconceivable that the state would not fight back. However corrupt and inept Putin’s regime may have been, it represents an electorate who rightly feel that it, and not the oligarchs and foreigners, should be the ultimate arbiters of the use of Russia’s resources.

By standing up to the challenge, Putin has endowed this electorate with a meaningful voice for the first time in Russia’s history. He has also emancipated it internationally by insisting that, despite its manifest flaws, it will be a Russian and not foreign judicial system which will deal with the issue.

--Vlad Sobell, Senior Economist, Daiwa Research, London.
May 31, 2005:
In a statement read by his lawyer, Anton Drel, after the court hearing, Khodorkovsky said: "I will fight for freedom - mine, Platon Lebedev's, other friends of mine, all of Russia's, and especially, for the next generation, to whom our country will fully belong in a few years. For them, my fate should stand as a lesson and an example ... The future seems bright to me, and the air of tomorrow's Russia, clean. Truth always wins, sooner or later."
I would like to believe that statement, but I very much doubt that all the truths connected with Menatep will ever come out. Whatever wrongs to democratic process the Kremlin committed in going after the amazing Mr Khodorkovsky and his fellow Oligarchs must be weighed against the fact that they were up against Mordor.

* For the full text of Williamson's testimony, which is greatly overextended due to her attempt to detail the Seventh Ring of Hell, go to:

Or visit the Imperial Forum.


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