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
This piece of Michael Moore-esque propaganda (with the same kind of whiny, sentimental voice-over) is an absolute load of nonsense.
Most Russians know Khodorkovsky as a crook, a bandit and a criminal who made billions from stealing natural resources from the country during the chaos and lawlessness of the 80s and 90s in Russia. Cyril Tuschi's attempts to portray him as a martyr for freedom and democracy in Russia is disgusting. The nods towards a more balanced account are distinctly feeble: quoting Khodorkovsky talking about breaking 'ethical standards from today's point of view' (no s**t), the former Yukos lawyer talking about Khodorkovsky helping create the very system that condemned him, relating his possible connection to the killing of the mayor, quickly dismissed by the next interviewee: 'I hope. I am almost certain, that (he) wasn't involved in this. I have serious doubts about some other Russian oligarchs'. Why does he hope and what makes him almost certain? What's his evidence that one of the most successful oligarchs wasn't while many others were? The film never interrogates this point. Khodorkovsky paid just $309 million for Yukos - in an auction held by his own bank - by 2003 it was worth $45 billion. This was hardly down to Khodorkovsky's management genius. No one got that far in that period in Russia (and in so short a space of time) without doing the worst possible things to get there. If practically everyone was doing it, how did one of those who was most successful in that era stay largely clear?
Just so you are under no illusions as to Tuschi's agenda/viewpoint in this film, I'll give you a few quotes from an interview that he did with Spiegel Online. In it Tuschi asserts that 'I am an artist not a judge', who is merely 'presenting an interesting film about a unique person', but in response to the very next question says that 'he has an almost transcendental, supernatural aura. It is the aura of a martyr'. This film is clearly the portrayal of a hero (albeit a flawed one, as the best heroes are!) - just look at the moment when Tuschi finally meets Khodorkovsky and shakes his hand in awe, and the suggestion earlier in the film that Khodorkovsky's earliest thinking, and his core, was and is influenced by the populist ideals of 'Pavel Korchagin', fighting for the good of the people, 'for the people's liberation'. To compare Khodorkovsky to the fictional Korchagin, as Tuschi is clearly doing, is a laughable disgrace.
Khodorkovsky cares nothing for the well-being of the Russian people. Until he had political ambitions (again for personal gain), for which he was imprisoned and his assets seized, when did he give two cents about the Russian people or democracy? All of those years of raking in money at the people's expense. He was a crook amongst crooks who lost out in the power struggle, nothing more. The attempts by people like Tuschi (or The Guardian in the UK) to turn him into a martyr in Russia's struggle for freedom is pathetic.
The film is too busy fawning over Khodorkovsky to provide any insight at all into the nuance and detail and context of what is going on. Tuschi came and went with the same lazy preconceptions about Khodorkovsky and his role in Russian society and he expects us to do the same. He seems to blindly accept what his interview subjects say, subjects who are almost exclusively former and current associates of Khodorkovsky. He also employs Michael Moore's patented technique of bursting in on officials unannounced, demanding they answer difficult questions on the spot, then instantly interpreting their refusal as them evading him because they have something to hide.
Here are a few particularly egregious snapshots of how idiotic this film gets:
in a weird and creepy black and white animation, he has Khodorkovsky
swimming across a swimming pool of gold coins towards a sign that says 'Open Russia'.
in an interview, Leonid Nevzlin, a multi-millionaire if not
billionaire former Yukos executive in exile (who, poor guy, complains of all the sunshine in Israel), has the cheek to say: 'We need some money. We need compensation. Not because we don't have money, fortunately we saved some money, but because they stole a lot of money, our part of Yukos oil company. So why we should forgive them for this? They should pay.' The film makes no mention of the irony of this. The Russian government's seizing of assets is repeatedly commented on and yet no mention is made of how (and in what context) the Yukos managers made their money in the first place.
the melancholic footage and voice-over of the now largely empty
'Yukos Compound' with its massive walls and mansions. 'Five of seven manager's houses are empty. Otherwise only the employees remain, who keep the park and pool in order, heating the empty houses and sweeping a garage for 50 vehicles that now stands empty too'. Need I add anything to his own words? Is Tuschi listening to what he's saying here? What exactly is he mourning for god's sake?
Yukos' former lawyer complaining about the state 'tricking the
oligarchs the oligarchs - they got no rights.' Lets all weep for the injustices suffered by the poor billionaires when the Russian government reasserted its authority after they had made so much money by opportunistically grabbing at a cut-price any industries that were lying around after the collapse of the Soviet Union. You know who had no rights? The ordinary people who were left with a disintegrating state plundered by bandits, whose savings and pensions were repeatedly wiped out, who lived in abject poverty and chaos while people from the Yukos cartel (amongst several others) drove by them in their black Mercedes with tinted windows and appropriated police sirens.
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