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The Yukos affair

The dramatic arrest 18 months ago of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then Russia's richest man, marked the end of the first, positive, phase of the Putin regime and the return of fear to Russian politics. But thanks to Kremlin errors and in-fighting, there is a new spirit of resistance to creeping authoritarianism

By Anthony Robinson   April 2005

The dramatic arrest 18 months ago of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is turning into modern Russia’s equivalent of the Dreyfus affair—a scandal that briefly illuminates and brings to a head normally half-hidden contests over power and principle. The indefinite detention of Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia’s richest man, and the effective renationalisation without compensation of the bulk of his Yukos oil company—worth nearly $40bn at its peak in mid-2003—marks the ascendancy of the former secret police or “siloviki,” whom President Putin has appointed to jobs throughout the government. They believe that regaining state control over the country’s vast natural resources to create a stronger…

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