The Other Prisoner

Mikhail Khodorkovsky may be Russia’s most well known political prisoner, but there’s no underestimating the urgent centrality of former Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak to the Kremlin’s bitter clan wars. Storchak was a respected finance player among the liberal faction of the technocratic St. Petersburg economists in the Kremlin, and oversaw foreign debt negotiations among other high level duties. However, back when the clan wars kicked off in earnest following the Cherkesov statements, Storchak was placed under arrest and jailed in pre-trial detention with charges of embezzlement – a political persecution that was seen as part of an attempt to oust Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. The Investigative Committee is leading the charge against Storchak and Kudrin, which is controlled by Igor Sechin’s ally Alexander Bastrykin. Everybody we talk with is practically certain that Storchak has done absolutely nothing wrong, however it looks like his fate is sealed until the clan wars cool down. The latest? Storchak (with his current Grizzly Adams prison beard) wishes to inform you that he remains unjustly imprisoned, like a knight removed from the clan war chessboard, with little glimmer of hope for due process. The Moscow Times is running a very interesting story about a recent letter Storchak wrote to Gazeta proclaiming his innocence and belief that his arrest is part of a campaign against state interests. We’ll see if we can’t be the first to get a translation of Storchak’s letter. sergeistorchak072408.jpg One day you are delivering prestigious speeches at the G8 Summit and renegotiating debt with Libya, the next, you’re stuck in gulag while the siloviki try to purge every competent economist from the Kremlin. At least they gave MBK a shaving kit.