From the Economist:
Lord Browne, BP’s chief executive, visited Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, last week. Speculation has it that TNK-BP’s participation in the auction was meant to confer legitimacy on the event (Russian law requires there to be at least two bidders), and thus to curry favour with the Kremlin—and perhaps also with Rosneft, who might be a more palatable partner than Gazprom. Though TNK-BP insisted that its interest in the auction was real, it seemed to wane pretty quickly. Meanwhile, more charges are being brought against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yukos’s former boss, who was arrested in 2003, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, Yukos’s auditor, has also been targeted by prosecutors. Those cases also seem designed to help justify the sell-offs. But larceny, even with a (relatively) respectable face, is still larceny.