For anyone interested in what’s going on in Eurasia, specifically Russia and its relations with all of the other nations of the continent, I highly recommend watching or listening to the Cato Institute’s policy forum today on “Russian Energy Policy and the New Russian State.” (I’m not sure when the video and audio will be archived for online streaming, but it will be very soon). Robert Amsterdam, Attorney for jailed Russian oil entrepreneur (and now political prisoner) Mikhail Khodorkovsky, made some very sharp and interesting comments about what is happening to the rule of law in Russia. Andrei Illarionov, former Economic Adviser to President Putin, then laid out the course of Russia’s energy policies under President Putin and explained the disastrous effects of those policies of re-nationalization (which has taken place alongside a coincident “privatization” of the Russian state, which is coming rapidly under the control of a KGB-corporate-state network) on the Russian economy, on the legal system of the Russian Federation, and on the long-term prospects of liberty in Russia.
Interest in the topic is increasing, as shown by Sunday’s Washington Post, which had a very insightful article on developments in Russia. As the article shows, Russian businessmen such as Vladislav Tetyukhin are strong-armed into turning control of their firms over to the ruling elites:
Last year, Tetyukhin was invited to tea at the Moscow headquarters of Rosoboronexport, and the conversation, he said, quickly took an unpleasant but not unexpected turn. Executives from Rosoboronexport told him that they wanted to buy a controlling stake in the titanium concern. The tea, he said, suddenly did not taste so sweet.
At first, Tetyukhin and Bresht publicly protested any sale of their shares, but their company quickly found itself under investigation by the tax police, and the prosecutor’s office launched an inquiry into VSMPO-Avisma’s share structure. Before it was acquired by VSMPO, Avisma, a raw materials supplier, was owned by Khodorkovsky, a potentially dangerous connection.
Rosoboronexport said it planned to move into the metals industry to “prevent the enterprises of the metallurgy sector from being usurped by various organizations, including those acting in the interests of foreign capital and using illegal methods.”
Not so sweet, indeed.