Prisoner Khodorkovsky

Uploaded by janusvh on 30.07.2011

Good evening, do you remember the name Mikhail Khodorkovsky?
Once a successful businessman in Russia and billionaire,
now rotting away in a prisoners' camp in Siberia.
In the nineties, Khodorkovsky's success was booming,
when he saved one public company after the other from bankrupcy.
Along with his economical imperium, his political influence was growing,
which was not appreciated by a certain Vladimir Putin.
Moscow, November of last year.
An armored police car arrives at the Khamovnichesky Court.
The whole street has been closed and guarded by an elite unit of the police.
For just a second, passengers can see the man who is brought in.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Once Russia's richest man, and wonderboy of the Russian business world.
That is: until he got 8 years for tax evasion and fraud in 2005.
Today we're 5 years later, and Khodorkovsky is again accused of fraud.
He would have stolen millions of liters of oil from his company Yukos,
but Khodorkovsky denies.
According to him, the whole case is a politicial trial,
and he is the victim of a political settlement.
I remember the end of the eighties of last century.
I was 25 years old.
Our country was longing for freedom.
So that we and our children could have a happy life.
Supporters outside the court are waiting for the verdict.
Among them are Boris and Marina, Khodorkovsky's parents.
I'm convinced he is more concerned about his country than about himself.
I don't know what matters to the judge: his conscience or his career.
What did you think when they were talking about fourteen years?
I think I will never see him again. I'm 70 years old.
Even if they give him four years... I'll never see him again.
After his first conviction, 5 years ago, Khodorkovsky is brought to Siberia.
He arrives in a prison in Chita, a far away town near the Chinese border.
The wealthy business man is confronted with an entirely new world.
He shares his cell with burglers and car thieves.
My first impression: he entered the cell and we said hello.
He presented himself as Mikhail Borisovich.
And that's how we got along from the very first day.
We kept a distance. He called me Igor Vyatyeslavovich,
and I called him Mikhail Borisovich.
He would possibly never call me by my surname.
He didn't know yet. I might become an important person one day.
So he preferred not to call me in another way.
Khodorkovsky keeps a low profile as much as possible.
He tries not to be noticed and spends his time with reading.
His family sends him boxes full of books.
Mikhail Borisovich could read fast. Very fast.
He could read 800 to 900 pages per day.
To me this was very suspicious,
since it were pages without pictures.
He was reading, and after only one minute he turned the page.
I was carefully watching how he was reading.
One day, I wanted to test him.
I asked him if I could read the same little book.
And from our conversations it appeared...
He had not only browsed it, he actually had read it!
At that time, Khodorkovsky starts writing letters and essays.
He writes about his early years as a business man,
and about the fortune he made in those years.
A success story which started in the 90s, shortly after the collapse of the USSR.
It's the time when in Russia the first private banks got introduced.
Many Russian brought their savings to the banks to buy shares.
Khodorkovsky, creator of a private bank, became rich in a very short time.
They all looked the same...
The way they ware dressed. They were some kind of...
The looked like each other. Brutal, young, very quick and smooth.
Real capitalist sharks.
When I first met him, he had square glasses which didn't suit him at all,
And a moustache. A typical shark...
At that moment, Khodorkovsky is only 27 years old.
He loves to organise parties, with plenty of champagne and caviar.
Especially his New Year's parties are notorious.
This video was made by Konstantin Shabelnitsky,
a young engineer who had just started working for the bank.
It was if you were working for a god.
Everybody - me too - admired the people who managed the bank.
We really worshiped them. To us, they were geniuses.
Before, at the factory, I happened to take a month of vacation.
And when I got back, nothing had changed.
But here we had another rhytm.
If you returned after a few days at the bank,
the whole system seemed to have changed. Everything was different.
It wasn't easy. The dynamics was physically and psychologically stressful.
But the success story also has its dark side.
Russia is practically bankrupted.
President Yeltsin decides to sell some state owned businesses.
A handful of savvy businessmen, the so-called oligarchs,
take advantage of the sales.
They buy state-owned companies, some at a fraction of the real value.
Khodorkovsky seizes the opportunity.
He knows the tricks of the trade, and has good contacts at the Kremlin.
He succeeds in acquiring the oil company Yukos at a bargain price.
At the age of 33 he's heading a company with tens of thousands of employees.
A poisoned chalice, at first sight...
since Yukos is a company in decline, where wages haven't been paid in months.
But Khodorkovsky manages to make the company profitable again,
and in only a couple of years, he turns Yukos into a modern oil giant,
with a billions turnover.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
May 2000. Vladimir Putin becomes president.
He makes a pact with the oligarchs.
As long as they stay out of politics,
the obscure cases from the past will not be investigated.
A deal which, initially, is followed properly.
The turnaround occurs in February 2003,
at a round table of the billionaires at the Kremlin.
The oligarchs have become more articulate,
and complain about the growing corruption in public administration.
Their spokesman is Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
We understand that we have also been contributing to corruption.
I'd even dare to say that it started with us.
But it must come to an end.
Khodorkovsky mentions corruption at Rosneft, a 100 % state owned company.
And this is brave behaviour, since the subject is absolutely taboo.
It was used as an example to demonstrate the corruption.
Everybody knew about it. It was a small world.
A small market.
And all industrials knew the real value of Rosneft.
The fact that he used this example to the president,
was a sensation. But it was not the most sensational.
Putin's reaction was sensational. And amazing, even shocking.
About your concrete question related to the take-over of Rosneft:
I think this is indeed...
Of course, it's up to the Board to respond and to explain...
that at first glance, certain things play a role...
As a state company, they have stocks which are far too little...
Some other oil companies like Yukos have got huge stocks.
And we now want to investigate how they acquired their stocks.
Including the questions whether taxes have been paid or not.
Putin's attack strikes like a bomb.
The pact with the oligarchs comes to a sudden end.
Khodorkovsky and his company Yukos are no longer welcome at the Kremlin.
The industrials got scared.
And they got even more scared when, a little later, Khodorkovsky was arrested.
They knew that, if they would do such things,
they would get the same treatment as Khodorkovsky got.
You don't need to kill all the wolves, just the leader.
If you want to beat the pack, you must tackle the leader.
You don't need to catch them all, it's enough to scare them off.
Therefore you catch the richest, the smartest, the boldest.
Or, in the good sense: the bravest.
Putin's battle against the Yukos concern had started.
Some months after the Kremlin round table, Khodorkovsky organises a press conference.
He says that his home had just been searched by masked men.
An orphanage sponsored by Yukos, has also been searched.
And this is just the beginning...
A couple of weeks later, Platon Lebedev was arrested.
He's an important shareholder of Yukos.
Khodorkovsky fears that the same will happen to him.
I do not want to become a political refugee.
If I have the choice between...
leaving the country or to be put in jail,
I'll go to jail. I won't be a political refugee.
Three weeks later, the time has come.
Khodorkovsky got arrested at an airport in Siberia.
A few months later, Khodorkovsky's trial begins in Moscow.
Konstantin Shabelnitsky, an engineer who worked for Yukos,
follows the trial closely.
He's retired now, but he's still loyal to his former boss.
It's a matter of conscience.
I want to support them as much as possible.
They are the smartest and best people of the country.
I was happy when I worked for them.
Me too, I support them unconditionally.
Every time I greet them. Yes, of course.
We greet each other.
The charges against Khodorkovsky are severe.
He would have stolen huge amounts of oil from his own company,
and he would have kept all Yukos' profit for himself.
According to the defense, the charges are grotesque.
Yukos paid all wages timely, and made important investments,
which would have been impossible if the money had been stolen.
But the defense is getting hard times...
Key witnesses are barred, and evidence is not accepted.
Therefore, former prime minister Kasyanov is only called at the last minute to testify.
We kept it quiet.
I went to court on a Monday morning.
The prosecutors were shocked when they saw me coming.
They suspended the debates for fifteen minutes.
They made phone calls to find out what to do.
But apparently, the judge didn't get quick and clear instructions.
So he had to accept my testimony, according to the law.
This case is completely absurd. The theft of such huge quantities of oil...
It's technically just impossible.
All pipelines were controlled by the public authorities.
I was prime minister at that time.
In the period in which, according to the prosecutor, the oil was stolen.
A demonstrator is sitting on the roof of the building in front of the courthouse.
He demands that all political prisoners in Russia should be set free.
But Vladimir Putin doesn't want to relent.
He comes with new allegations.
Khodorkovsky would have a lot to answer for some murders, so he says.
Didn't you know that some of his people were convicted for murder?
The have dead bodies everywhere.
Yes, the Head of Security of Yukos has been sentenced for murder.
But nobody speaks out. They don't betray each other.
Do you think the Head of Security murders on his own initiative?
Putin refers to a case from 2005.
A security agent of Yukos had been found guilty for murder.
Putin claims that Khodorkovsky was the principal of the killings.
He did law school and he accuses someone of murder.
You can't do that without evidence.
Not even in a court room.
In any other civilised country, he would be sued for it.
- But that doesn't happen? - No, they are scared.
Yukos is caught.
Vasily Aleksanyan, Khodorkovsky's assistant, is also arrested.
After a few months in jail, Aleksanyan is a mere shadow of his former self.
After a surgery, he caught HIV, and his immune system is weakened by tuberculosis.
Yet he's not allowed to get treatment in an hospital outside the prison.
He think's it's a cunning trick to make him confess.
Prosecutor Karimov spoke to me personally.
He was preparing the new case against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.
"You have to make a statement", he said.
Because we can't prove the accusations against Khodorkovsky.
You give us evidence, and we'll make sure you get treatment.
Then he made a concrete proposal.
Only after four years, Aleksanyan could go to an hospital,
after having paid a huge deposit.
His complaint against Karimov was never investigated.
At his trial, Aleksanyan is a broken man.
He's almost blind, and barely capable to testify.
I graduated at the best universities.
Here and in the United States.
I have lived...
I raised a child...
Than they decided to break me.
Which seems to be easy in our country.
6.000 kilometer from Moscow, another life is being destroyed.
The long arm of the Kremlin reaches out to the Siberian town Chita.
It's the hometown of Sergey Taratukhin, a priest of the orthodox Church.
That is: until he openly supported Khodorkovsky, some time ago.
A courageous act, which wasn't appreciated at all.
After I had said something good about him,
and defended Mikhail Borisovich,
I was punished by the leaders of my Church.
First they transferred me to a small village far away.
And after three weeks, I got the message...
Some years ago, Taratukhin had his own church not far from Chita.
He was leading a successful congregation and was known as father Sergey.
Occasionally, he visited a prisoners' camp at the town border.
He talked to the prisoners to hearten them.
On one of his visits, he met Khodorkovsky.
The priest was impressed by the meeting, although Khodorkovsky was not baptized.
Taratukhin is convinced that Khodorkovsky is an honest and integer man,
and that he was wrongfully locked up.
I refused the consecration...
I refused to consecrate the administrative building of the camp.
When I was asked to do it, I went there.
Then I refused. As long as there are political prisoner in the camp,
- Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky -
my conscience didn't allow me to consecrate the building.
Taratukhin starts reading about the case.
He proclaims everywhere that Khodorkovsky is innocent.
The impact will follow soon.
He's been discharged from office, and declared persona non grata in the Church.
Today he's working as a mechanic in a small factory.
As long as Putin is in power, I can't be a priest.
Because the Church want to have a good relationship with the authorities.
They prefere to sacrifice an insignificant priest,
rather than making a gesture, displeasing the athorities.
The president of the Russian Federation:
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev.
In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev becomes president of Russia, but nothing is changing.
Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, is still the most powerful man in the country.
Putin and Medvedev are close friends,
and appear regularly on TV together, to show publicly how close they are.
Here you can see them enjoying a staged picnic.
I just come from an agricultural fair.
The Lithuanian peasants have given us some bread.
But our farmers gave us these dairy products.
- Kefir and milk. - A good idea to bring them both.
We will try them both, also the Lithuanian products.
- Cheers. - Cheers.
October 2003, in the Khodorkovsky home.
It's just before his arrest.
A rare moment, since Khodorkovsky allowed the camera in his private life.
Nobody knew this would be the last night with his family.
The twelve year old Anastasia, his wife Ina, and the twin boys Ilya and Gleb.
The day after this barbecue, Khodorkovsky had planned a business trip.
He was arrested at an airport in Siberia.
Since then, his wife and children only saw him through the glass...
of the prison's visitors' room.
It happened by coincidence, when the seance was suspended,
the twins were in the court house.
They walked up the stairs and entered the room.
They could put their hands through the opening for the documents.
They could touch their father for a couple of seconds.
Only two years later, Ina is allowed to visit her husband in the Siberian jail.
She's with Khodorkovsky for three days, and then she returns to Moscow,
thousands of kilometers away.
I am shocked.
It's shocking when you can't see your husband for two years.
But I tell you, we won't give up.
He's learning a new job.
He makes clothes
He's prepared to be retrained as a tailor.
So he learns a new profession he can exercise.
During the trial, Ina doesn't show up often.
Since her husband was arrested, she's retiring and depressed.
She seems to cope less with the situation than Khodorkovsky himself.
When she comes to the court room, Khodorkovsky tries to cheer her up.
The life in prison is hard.
If necessary, I will die in prison for the things I believe in.
And, my dear opponents, what do you believe in?
The infallibility of the system?
I don't know. It's up to you to decide.
Before the hudge makes his decision, Vladimir Putin he takes the floor.
To him, the Khodorkovsky trial is clearly of state interest.
Putin speaks life in a popular talk show.
Replying to a question, he says that Khodorkovsky is undoubtedly guilty.
A thief should be in prison.
Following the court's decision, Khodorkovsky is accused of embezzlement.
In the US, mister Madoff was sentenced for a similar crime,
and he was put in jail for 150 years.
In my opinion... we are very open-minded.
Nevertheless, we must assume that Khodorkovsky's crimes are proved in court.
Under such pressure, the judge can't do anything else than condemn Khodorkovsky.
The outcome of the trial seems to be decided before.
But Khodorkovsky still hopes for a miracle.
I understand it isn't easy for you, your honour.
Maybe you are even scared. I wish you courage.
Your judgment will be historical. Even more:
it will determine the future of our country.
In December 2010 the judge reads the verdict.
Guilty to all charges.
Khodorkovsky and Lebedev get a sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
There are no miracles.
Supporters of Khodorkovsky keep on manifesting against his imprisonment.
To them, Khodorkovsky is a political prisoner,
and a figurehead in the fight against corruption.
When my children will ask me where I was the day that justice died,
I can tell them that I wasn't sitting home.
I'm doing it for myself, but also...
to support the people with the same opinion.
Marina Khodorkovskaya thanks all those who supported her son the past years.
To her, it's not only about Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
but about the future of all Russians.
She asks them to keep on fighting for a future,
in which people can't be sentenced for no reason.
lame duck for Putin.