Mitvol: “I Steal from the Poor”


This week the Independent is running an interesting profile of Russia’s glamor-bureaucrat / eco-warrior / regulatory hammer, Oleg Mitvol – who famously applied his agency’s pressure on Royal Dutch Shell to force a major concession to Gazprom. It is amazing to me that Mitvol can continue to posture as though his job means something, when it is clear that the moment in which he delivers control of an asset to a state company, the environmental problems vanish into thin air. Independent:

Oleg Mitvol, the Russian environmental watchdog loathed by Shell and other Western natural resources companies, describes himself as Robin Hood with a difference. “I don’t only take from the rich, I also take from the middle class and poor. For me an enemy is a company who breaks our rivers, forest, landscape – an enemy of our children.” …. It’s not clear what Mitvol’s motivation is. It could genuinely be a desire to protect the environment, but nothing in Russia is ever simple. It’s certainly not the money: while he says he is paid £1,000 a month, he is already a millionaire, having made a reported $20m from property deals. He insists he is not anti-capitalist, despite calling himself a communist (it’s good to cover all bases in post-Soviet Russia). “I have capitalist and market ideas but not bandit markets [ideas]. I will help to make a civilised market in Russia.”