Putin's Oil

Putin's Oil

The Yukos Affair and the Struggle for Russia

Book - 2010
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Putin's Oil relates Vladimir Putin's war for control of Russia's vast oil reserves, in particular Mikhail Khodorkovsky's oil firm, Yukos.
Publisher: New York : Continuum, 2010.
ISBN: 9781441199683
Branch Call Number: 338.27282 SI97
Characteristics: 311 pages ; 24 cm


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Oct 11, 2019

The attention-grabbing title -- presumably a strategem of book marketing -- is slightly off-focus. This book presents the story of Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- once the richest of the Russian oligarchs, political opponent of Putin and his Kremlin regime, and aspirational reformer of Russian society -- his rise, his acquisition and growth of the major Russian oil company Yukos, and the use of arbitrary and politically directed legal prosecution to imprison Khodorkovsky, to imprison or exile many of his associates, and to expropriate/reprivatize Yukos assets with rampant looting and skimming for the personal enrichment of Putinist Kremlin hardliners . This is an important story, dramatically and clearly explained. It appears to be well attested by contemporaneous news and government publications, but also by the author's many interviews with actors and close bystanders in the events. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes or endnotes whatsoever for its extensive quotations and citations -- a defect that may weaken the book's otherwise convincing credibility. Nor is there an index, which would have been very helpful to the readers.

The book was published in 2010 while Khodorkovsky was still incarcerated in a Siberian prison. So it does not bring us up to date with his release at the end of 2013 at the urging of human rights activists and especially with the lobbying of Putin by Hans-Dietrich Genscher, retired German Foreign Minister. Nor does it cover Khodorkovsky's subsequent activities in an insecure exile in Switzerland and England, where he re-launched his Open Russia foundation to promote reforms to Russian civil society -- including free and fair elections, political education, protection of journalists and activists, endorsing the rule of law, and ensuring media independence.


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