Sunday, October 26, 2003

Russians Seize, Charge YUKOS Oil Magnate

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's wealthiest man, oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was snatched from his jet in Siberia on Saturday, charged with fraud and tax evasion, and clamped in prison. Khodorkovsky, chief executive of YUKOS, had been engaged in months of confrontation with the Kremlin, backing President Vladimir Putin's rivals ahead of a parliamentary election in December and a presidential contest next March. Prosecutors called the case against Khodorkovsky "unprecedented." The action seemed calculated to demonstrate who was boss to the fabulously wealthy "oligarchs" who control post-Soviet Russia's natural resources and industry. It may also be a prelude to confiscating assets acquired in chaotic privatization's in the 1990s, investment analysts said. ... Khodorkovsky's political ambitions have won him no more favor with the Kremlin than wealthy former Yeltsin allies like Boris Berezovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky, now in uneasy exile. "He is being pressed to give it up or sell out. People high up in administration do not want...their most powerful opponent running the most powerful company in Russia," said an international official in Moscow ... Electricity utility boss Anatoly Chubais, former architect of privatization, said moves against business chiefs "have considerably worsened the atmosphere in Russian society ... By Larisa Sayenko >>Full story...

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