Saturday, January 1, 2011

Russia's Slide Back into Statism Rolls On

By Joseph Kellard

Surprisingly, the New York Times reports, as objectively as it can, on a successful oil businessman whose life, property and riches an authoritarian government — i.e., Putin’s Russia, has destroyed. The article, “Guilty Verdict for a Tycoon, and Russia,” is a great snapshot of how this outcome for Mikhail Khodorkovsky — “who had built and presided over Yukos, the biggest and best-run company in the country” —is the result of a government run primarily by arbitrary laws/regulations, political favors and pull and, of course, a complete disregard for the rights of man.

“Even since the Yukos affair, corrupt Russian politicians and businessmen have routinely used arbitrary laws and regulations to grab assets that didn’t belong to them. Royal Dutch Shell was the majority partner in a group that included the state-owned monopoly Gazprom to develop a giant oil and natural gas field. Suddenly, in 2006, it ran into severe environmental and regulatory problems — problems that disappeared as soon as Shell ceded majority ownership to Gazprom.”