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The Kremlin’s Historical Fantasy of the Yukos Affair

The debut of the Russian government’s new standard history textbooks, complete with chapters softening the the legacy of Joseph Stalin’s great terror to the point of ambiguity, indoctrinating the youth with Vladislav Surkov’s sovereign democracy model, and providing a thoroughly revisionist history of Vladimir Putin’s taming of the oligarchs, caused a great furor when they were debuted last year. We published several translated articles about the textbook, and many others in the media really teed off on the subject. Now, thanks to a contributor at La Russophobe, we have a look at the actual text.

In an excerpt from chapter six published by LR, we see an example which exposes the weaknesses of Yukos narrative which the Kremlin seeks to promote. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, according to this textbook, only supported opposition political parties out of a desire to control the government, and that all his efforts to promote civil society groups were similarly seen as a threat by the executive. The book claims that the state’s tax receipts increased by 133% after the Yukos affair, and the theft of the company and imprisonment of its CEO “finally buried the oligarchs’ hopes of preserving their control over the Russian state.“Perhaps the most laughable comparison put forward in the Kremlin narrative is that of Yukos and the landmark anti-trust case of Standard Oil in the United States. The only thing missing was the classic forced comparison to the Enron case.What is interesting is that all of these invented reasons would actually support Khodorkovsky’s immediate release. Now given that he has embarked upon a hunger strike in support of his former colleague Vasily Alexanyan, who is being slowly murdered by the state in order to extract false testimony against others, these textbook explanations appear breathtakingly hollow and dishonest.Great job, chekists – now of course there are no more oligarchs in Russia and no more energy monopoly.