Khodorkovsky, the richest Russian, challenges President Putin. A fight of the titans begins. Putin warns him. But Khodorkovsky comes back to Russia knowing that he will be imprisoned, once ...
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Khodorkovsky, the richest Russian, challenges President Putin. A fight of the titans begins. Putin warns him. But Khodorkovsky comes back to Russia knowing that he will be imprisoned, once he returns. When I heard about it, I asked myself: why didn't he stay in exile with a couple of billions? Why did he do that? A personal journey to Khodorkovsky. Written by
In the movie, the writer/producer fails to point out that the sale of YUKOS OIL's assets and other assets sold to the oligarchs was a move by Yeltsin to protect the Russian economy from being "owned" by business outside Russia. If the assets placed in the auction had been offered for their true value, only large corporations outside of Russia would have been able to afford them. In order to have them owned by Russian businesses, they were offered for rock bottom prices. Only a few business people in Russia had the assets to acquire businesses such as Yukos.
Whether it was "stealing" from the Russian people is a moral question that is difficult to answer since the practical reason for the sales was so complex. Prior to the sale, the government owned all the assets, so did the government "steal" from the people by controlling all the assets? Did the government provide its citizens the benefits of those resources, or did government officials plunder the assets, too. According to continuing reports from analysts who study Russian politics, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated at $60 billion during his terms in office. Did he acquire those assets through corruption or legitimate means? At least when business people own assets, the people they employ benefit by receiving a salary. In the U.S. the discrepancy between what CEOs earn and what the average worker earns represents a gap of about 475%. Some people in the U.S. view CEOs as "stealing" from the shareholders.
If the documentary had presented some of these facts so viewers could see that this is not a "black and white" issue, the movie would have provided a more substantive explanation of what happened during the 90s and how Russia and Khordorkvsky changed - from a country that had begun to move toward democracy to one with an iron-fisted leader who appears to be as corrupt as most Russians view Khordorkvsky.
As a documentarian myself, I know it is difficult to present this complex subject in a brief and interesting film. I do think the writer/producer tried because the movie talks about Khordorkvsky's taking advantage of the "system" which at the time was totally legal when he bought Yukos to the Khordorkvsky who was supporting the opposition movement. Whether he was doing it for political gain (wanting to be president), I doubt. Recent events show that was not the case.
His public statement that the president needed to do something about corruption viewed as the catalyst for his arrest indicates that he was attempting to present his new-found capitalistic business approach as a better way for Russian to operate - to attract foreign investment. Whether it was arrogant of him to speak publicly to the president is an open question, but in the U.S., people challenge the president constantly to "fix" what's wrong with the country. One has to decide - was Khordorkvsky being arrogant, or was he operating under the assumption that government can affect changes in problems facing the country as is expected in a democratic country?
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