Yesterday Russia authorities placed the billionaire owner of Sistema Vladimir Yevtushenkov under house arrest while he is investigated for alleged money laundering, claiming foul play in the company’s acquisition of shares in the oil company Bashneft.
The Yevtushenkov matter drew immediate comparisons with the Yukos affair and politically motivated arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003, as Bashneft is seen as a company coveted by Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin.
Speaking with Vedomosti, Mikhail Khodorkovsky says that the state’s attack against Yevtushenkov, although apparently more commercial than political, illustrates a “complete loss of control” on behalf of President Vladimir Putin as he (Yevtushenkov) is being punished for refusing to hand over property to Rosneft.
“Vladimir Yevtushenkov was stubborn, he did not want to pass his property at the conditions he was apparently offered. So it was decided to use the familiar old method. I think, there is nothing else here,” Khodorkovsky told Vedomosti.
According to an article published by RIA Novosti, the court is to determine whether the shares Yevtushenkov legalized had been stolen from Russian Bakotorstan Republic’s oil companies.
Khodorkovsky further said the two cases had differences, as he was a critic of the Kremlin, while Yevtushenkov is being pressured for purely economic reasons.
“The Yukos case was still mainly based on a socio-political conflict… While here, the interest is purely commercial, this is the direct use of this situation,” he told RBK newspaper.
He added that Yevtushenkov should agree to whatever conditions are offered to him, otherwise “the situation will be harsher.”
“If Yevtushenkov has a chance to reach an agreement, he should go for it. I would not see any shame or discomfort if he agreed on any conditions,” Khodorkovsky said.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was pardoned and released from prison in December 2013 after more than ten years in jail. Rosneft took over the main assets of the oil company Yukos shortly following his original arrest in October 2003.