Theories of Khodorkovsky’s Release

I don’t endorse any particular theory here, but it’s an interesting take.  A translation of Andrei Illarionov’s theories behind the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Original source:

Russian President Vladimir Putin released the former head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and is considering the release of two more suspects in the Yukos case in exchange for a settlement agreement of the Yukos shareholders with the Kremlin on the claim of $98 billion, which is reviewed by the international court in The Hague. This scenario was expressed by a former adviser to Putin, President of the Institute of Economic Analysis, Andrei Illarionov .

According to him, such release versions as “Putin has shown mercy “, or he gave a “signal to his surroundings – stop being impudent”, he became concerned of the country’s reputation as a democratic state, “sent a signal to the West before the Olympic Games in Sochi and agreed to the “German secret diplomacy”, are untenable, and some even puzzling.

The main and the most realistic version, according to the ex- adviser to Putin, was “the deal of the Millennium” – the exchange operation. Illarionov believes that there are two participants in the exchange transaction – “Master of the iron casket” and his recent prisoner, and the exchange subject – remaining behind bars, Platon Lebedev and Alexei Pichugin .

At the same time, according to Illarionov, Putin has already made a number of concessions when he freed Khodorkovsky. In particular, he abandoned the requirement to recognize a guilt; he de facto acknowledged that the prosecution of Khodorkovsky in violent crimes were unfounded , withdrew from the development of ” a third case”, released his prisoner early, gave him the opportunity to travel abroad in the presence of about $550 million tax debt, and for all that he violated the law.

“The only serious reason on the political horizon is not Sochi, but The Hague. However, this is still not the Hague, which the reader may think. We are talking about something else – about inexorably approaching judgment of the International Court of Justice on Yukos shareholder lawsuit against the Russian Federation. Size of the suit is $98 billion, the largest in the world judicial history, a truly astronomical sum. If the Hague court decides in favor of shareholders, even without satisfying their claim in full, it will be a monstrous hit by the current Kremlin regime and personally by Vladimir Putin. From the legal point of view. In terms of reputation. And in terms of finances”,- Illarionov stated in his blog.

He noted that the future of the Hague court ruling is unknown today, but, apparently, Putin had reasons to fear the consequences.

“Judging by the reaction on the operation to transfer Mikhail Khodorkovsky from Segezha in Europe, the Hague court, albeit in some part of its decision, inclined to support shareowner. It seems that a trigger to this operation was delivery on October 18, 2013, when the Samara Region government received an order to carry out the decision of the Federal District Court of New York, to make JSC “Samaraneftegaz” pay $186 million to Yukos shareholders “- Illarionov wrote.

As an ex- adviser to Putin added, apparently, neither traditionally used by the Russian side methods of neither nonverbal persuasion, nor one of the most experienced law firms in the world could give the desired effect in The Hague. “Apparently, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the last argument “, Illarionov suggested.

In addition, as he noted, Khodorkovsky has repeatedly publicly stated that his priority now is to achieve a release of Lebedev and Pichugin. “It seems that now we have a chance to witness the “deal of the decade” – the exchange and release of Platon Lebedev and A.Pichugina for the settlement agreement of Yukos shareholders with the Kremlin regime on a 100 billion dollar lawsuit” – Illarionov concluded.