20 years under Putin: a timeline

Last week, in a special address to the IHS CERAWeek Conference in Houston, Texas, Igor Sechin, the president of the Rosneft oil company, majority-owned by the Russian state, unveiled the company’s international strategy, including the development of an oilfield in the Vankor region of Eastern Siberia, which he described as “the largest new oil development project in post-Soviet Russia.” In response to Sechin’s address, IMR President Pavel Khodorkovsky issued the following statement.


“The oil industry remains vital to Russia’s economy, and Rosneft is the largest oil company in Russia. In 2003, that title belonged to the Yukos Oil Company led by my father, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. On October 25, 2003, however, my father was arrested. Unless he is released immediately, this October will mark the tenth anniversary of his imprisonment.

When Yukos was subsequently broken up and sold off through rigged auctions, it was Rosneft that appropriated most of its assets. 15 per cent of Yukos was owned by American investors who have never received compensation for their losses.

“For the Russian oil industry to fulfil its potential, it is vital for Russia to take genuine steps to challenge the official corruption.”

I was fascinated to read the speech by Rosneft’s chief, Igor Sechin, outlining the company’s international strategy, and impressed by the scale of Rosneft’s ambitions. For the Russian oil industry to fulfil its potential, however, it is vital for Russia to take genuine steps to challenge the official corruption, which will continue to hold it back.

Under my father, Yukos set new standards not only for Russian oil production, but for Russian oil industry transparency. My father has stated that he has no plans to return to the industry he once helped revitalize. At a time when Russia continues to be ranked lower than any other G20 country in transparency indexes, however, his interest in challenging corruption and lawlessness remains as resolute as ever. He put it aptly when he wrote:

“Abuse of power in Russian politics has been allowed to flourish too long. We need to modernize our economy, build a genuine civil society, end legal nihilism and stamp out corruption. We need to do this to build a better life for our children and our children’s children, and for the country we love to prosper and to be engaged usefully in a changed and changing world.”

Ending corruption is not just a human rights issue; the Russian government’s contempt for the rule of law and the proliferation of corruption remains a huge impediment to direct foreign investment – investment which is essential to Russia’s future, and which I passionately support. I hope that all those with an interest in the Russian and international oil industries will continue to remember their former colleague, and my father, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. My father’s unjust imprisonment remains a symbol of Russia’s lawlessness, corruption and increasingly hostile approach to domestic and international policy. I encourage you to call for his release, and to support a Russia of free markets and free people.”