Remember back to those halcyon days when the Russian government would only raid the offices of primary targets like Yukos, sending teams of OMON with Kalashnikovs and balaclava masks to terrorize employees, seize confidential materials, and destroy exculpatory evidence? It seemed much more civilized back before they were flipping over desks and cabinets in other office raids of places like Open Russia and PricewaterhouseCoopers, right?
Well those days of relatively “contained” abuses by the Russian leviathan are over. Now BP, despite paying homage to the court of Putin, is seeing the same tactics pulled against them as part of a campaign to pressure them into giving up a major stake in the joint venture TNK-BP. Tonight the Financial Times is reporting that police raided BP’s Moscow offices today, which is seen as “a move that industry experts considered a possible increase of state pressure on both companies.“Apparently BP’s surrender of a major stake in the production of the Kovykta Field is not yet sealed up with Gazprom, which brought extraordinary pressure to bear upon the company in the past, using the pipeline monopoly to prevent them from shipping supply. The state’s pressure on TNK-BP has driven market capitalization down to its lowest point in years (just $25 billion – a prime example of Velvet Reprivatization), the owners say they will only sell at a full valuation of $60 billion. Gazprom exec Alexander Medvedev had quite an icy reply to a reporter’s question about the value discrepancy of TNK-BP and the office raid by police: “The question of greediness should not be part of this discussion.“Here’s the real kicker: this news comes on the exact same day that an executive from France’s Total, the winner/loser of the Shtokman Field contest, has an interview in which he praises, with embarrassing sycophancy, Russia as as safe and stable investment environment for energy companies. The things we are meant to believe . . .