Chapter 5: Mikhail Khodorkovsky Commentary: Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Yukos
5. Mikhail Khodorkovsky: chelovek c rublyom (man with a ruble) Throughout 2003, the trials and tribulations of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man and the former CEO of Yukos, the second-largest Russian oil producer, captured the attention of the media, business community, politicians, and researchers and educators in Russia and abroad. His own actions, and the actions that were taken against him, provoked waves of speculation about the future of the global energy industry and Russia’s political and economic prospects. Early in 2003, it looked as if Khodorkovsky’s personal and professional life were going according to plan. He announced his intention to step down in 2007 as CEO of Yukos, a company with a market capitalization of $26 billion. The treadmill of work was getting to him – in 2003 he worked up to ten hours a day, six days a week – and he said that he didn’t want to be working so hard after the age of 45 (a milestone he will reach in 2008). Khodorkovsky’s disclosure of his retirement plans was the ﬁrst announcement of that sort made by an oligarch in the history of the new Russian capitalism, and it sparked strong rumors (which he denied) about his ambitions to succeed President Putin when the latter’s second term expires in 2008. Then, on 22 April 2003, came a second announcement, when a smiling Khodorkovsky and Evgeny Shvidler, CEO of Sibneft, Russia’s ﬁfth-largest oil company, revealed an agreement to merge their companies into a giant oil producer with an estimated...
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