Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Power Vertical

The Yukos Endgame

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev
Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev
He was always the other guy in the case. Mikhail Khodorkovsky's silver-haired business partner was charged with the same crimes and received the same sentences as his more famous associate.

But when Khodorkovsky walked free in December after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin, Platon Lebedev remained behind bars.

Until now, that is.

In the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss the machinations surrounding Lebedev's release.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at NYU and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows," and guest Sean Guillory, a fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and author of "Sean's Russia Blog."

Also on the podcast, Mark, Sean, and I discuss the reemergence of Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin. And just for fun, we chatted about an odd photo from Sochi that went viral this week.


Power Vertical Podcast -- January 24, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- January 24, 2014i
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Tags: Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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Comment Sorting
by: Bruce W Bean from: MSU Law School
January 24, 2014 21:01
Mark and Sean ignore the fact that Khodorkovsky controls more than half of the Yukos shares. Thus, it would be logical to think MBK could well have a large impact on the Yukos shareholder lawsuit in The Hague.
Thus the idea that there is a larger deal behind what we can now see might well be valid.
In Response

by: Mark Galeotti
January 26, 2014 10:43
But he doesn't; most of his shares are tied up in Dutch stichtings, offshore vehicles controlled by autonomous boards. It's questionable whether he could actually persuade them to, in effect, waive their claims to a massive potential payout -- and, indeed, whether for them to do that would be legally considered a breach of their fiduciary responsibilities.
In Response

by: Weijia from: Exeter
January 27, 2014 14:01
He has given all his share to Nevzlin after he was arrested.
In Response

by: bruce W. Bean from: MSU Law School
January 27, 2014 20:28
He gave control of the sahres to Nevzlin just prior to being arrested, but he did not give up beneficial ownership

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 25, 2014 10:48
VIDEO: West v East: Ukraine split in half amid violence engulfing capital - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nqNvMbqUAU

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 25, 2014 20:57
VIDEO: Ukraine democracy activists play with the police while storming local administration - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stK3YPz6WTc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
January 26, 2014 13:28
Talk about blabbering while Ukraine burns! To spend half your program discussing a picture of a toilet indicates either sick perversity or willing obtuseness. What a waste of time and talent. Is there any form of editorial oversight at RFE?
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 27, 2014 08:20
Ray, you are saying: "What a waste of time and talent". What talent, Ray :-)))?
In Response

by: Brian Whoitmore from: Prague
January 27, 2014 13:28
Ray, this is a podcast about Russia, not Ukraine. RFE has produced a massive amount of content about Ukraine throughout the crisis and will continue to do so. It's all over the site. If you think a podcast covering the main developments in Russia -- like the release of Platon Lebedev for example -- is a waste of time, you are welcome to not listen to it. Moreover, "half of the program" was not spent discussing the Sochi restroom photo. Just the last 10 mins. We often close on a lighter note when possible

by: Bruce W. Bean from: MSU Law School
January 26, 2014 13:52
In response to mark's reply to my prior comment:
This is just a lawyer problem. They have already spent nearly $1bn on lawyers and PR since 10-25-2003.

The autonomous boards take their direction from, and owe their fiduciary duties to, the beneficiaries. MBK had over 50% and Platon another 7+%.. In fact there were very few "public" shareholders of Yukos Oil.

Posit a loss in the Dutch proceeding. VVP refuses to pay and a "settlement" is reached. This settlement, like all such arrangements (see the arbitration between Yukos shareholders and Sibneft in the LCIA), is totally secret..

This is all about whether there could be an arrangement with Putin. My guess is -Yes there could be. Ten years is a long time!!

Let's wait and see.


by: Sarah Price from: Edinburgh
January 27, 2014 12:11
One of the speakers on this week's podcast says it is absurd to have a compartment containing two toilets. Well, what is absurd? It depends on your context, your upbringing, your expectations, your culture. To me, in the northern part of the island of Britain, it may seem absurd. But to my certain knowledge, when I was studying for my Russian degree in the mid 80s and visited the Soviet Union as it was then, there was such a setup in the female toilets in the institute where we were studying. The compartment at the end of the rank was a doubler. You went in there with your best friend (presumably). I did not think this was lunacy or the end of civilisation. It was just how things were done, and things were done differently. Perhaps we are the ones who are absurd, for thinking it's absurd.

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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