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Ironduke
30 Oct 03,, 23:04
Report: Putin top aide quits

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of Kremlin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, Interfax news agency reported.

There were reports in the Russia media that Voloshin submitted his resignation to protest the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of Yukos Oil Company.

The Kremlin said Voloshin is being replaced by Dmitri Medvedyev, who was Voloshin's chief assistant. Kremlin officials would not say when Voloshin submitted his resignation and why.

Khodorkovsky was arrested Saturday on charges of fraud and tax evasion totaling more than $1 billion. He remains in jail.

Earlier Thursday Russian authorities seized a controlling stake in oil giant Yukos. Shares in the company plummeted 5 percent on the news, Interfax said.

"As you can imagine, this news is causing quite a sensation," CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to meet financial leaders at the Kremlin later Thursday in an effort to calm money market nerves sparked by the arrest of Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky earlier this week on alleged fraud and tax evasion charges valued at $1 billion. He remains in prison.

But the share take-over move "is really stirring the pot," Dougherty added.

Russian prosecutors are seizing 44 percent of Yukos it says Khodorkovsky owns, in a bid to stop the money leaving the country.

They said in a written statement the shares "are being seized as security against material damage."

Prosecutors claim the shares, while technically the property of two international companies, in reality belong to Khodorkovsky.

They add that according to Russian law, they have the right to seize property owned by people accused of crimes.

But public relations agents for Khodorkovsky, said the move was a "gross violation of the law" and that the arrest was on "trumped up" charges.

They add that the shares do not belong to him but rather international investors.

Yuri Kotler, a spokesman for Group Menatep, a Yukos affiliate, told CNN that prosecutors are not correct in claiming that Khodorkovsky owns the shares. Kotler said the shares were put under Khodorkovsky's trust, that he has the right to vote the shares, but has no ownership rights over them.

When Khodorkovsky was arrested, Kotler said, he gave the shares to a third shareholder. The lawyer refused to name the other shareholder. He said the prosecutor's action means shares cannot be sold or moved to other accounts.

The key issue, according to James Fenkner, head of research for Troika Dialog investments, is what ultimately happens to the shares. "Their legal status is unknown at this stage," he told CNN. "They are in a legal vacuum."

If Khodorkovsky is convicted, he said, he could lose his assets to the state. This could be interpreted as nationalization, which is a highly charged issue in Russia. Putin has promised the Khodorkovsky case will not be used to reopen controversial privatizations of the 1990s in order to re-nationalize Russian companies.

Dougherty said the seizure of the shares is an attempt to remove control from Khodorkovsky.

"They are saying he is a threat," Dougherty said. "Also that he is a law-breaker to the tune of $1bn."

But the political situation is being cited by analysts as the reason for his detention. He has given large amounts of money to political opposition figures.

Earlier this week Russia's general prosecutor asked a regional court to invalidate the election of a Yukos shareholder to Russia's upper house of parliament.

The move would revoke Vasily Shakhnovsky's immunity and open the door to his arrest.

Another key member of the Yukos team currently in custody pending an investigation on charges of fraud and tax evasion is Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev.

Yukos lawyer Anton Drel, meanwhile, told CNN that Khodorkovsky, in detention in Moscow since his arrest last Saturday, "looks fine, is energetic" and is asking about his family, including his wife and children.

Khodorkovsky "has no illusions" about his case, according to his lawyer, but "thinks that he has a good chance in a really open legal trial process."

"He hopes for civil society, the legal system, and a good future," Drel added.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/10/30/yukos.prosecutors/index.html

Ironduke
01 Nov 03,, 23:29
Yukos: Russia hits back at U.S.

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia has hit back at U.S. criticism of prosecutors' handling of a legal case against oil giant Yukos, calling the State Department's remarks "disrespectful."

U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday that the Kremlin should act to dispel concerns that the arrest of the boss of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was not politically motivated. His comments were echoed by Germany.

"They need to ensure that it's judged fairly and with full regard for due process of law applied in a non-selective fashion," Boucher said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko, speaking to First Channel television on Saturday, said: "This statement is a continuation of a notorious policy of double standards.

"It is, at the very least, tactless and disrespectful towards Russia."

Russian authorities have seized control of a large shareholding in Yukos pending further investigation of the company and of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, who is accused of fraud.

On Friday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told reporters he was "deeply concerned" over steps by Russian prosecutors to freeze 44 percent of the shares in Yukos. (Full story)

Kasyanov, quoted by Interfax news agency, called it a "new phenomenon ... the consequences of which are hard to predict."

"It's a new form of pressure," he added.

His remarks came a day after President Vladimir Putin tried to calm investors, inviting leading Russian and international money men to the Kremlin and assuring them there had been no change in policy by the Russian government.

The actions spurred fears of renationalization of industry, a major issue in Russia.

Opinion polls showed on Saturday nearly two-thirds of Muscovites were skeptical about Kremlin assertions the Yukos affair was purely a criminal matter and saw Khodorkovsky's arrest as political. That, however, did not appear to seriously erode support for Putin. (Full story)

The poll by the respected VTsIOM-A agency said Putin had 73 percent approval among 1,600 Russians polled this week.

This was nearly his lowest score this year but well above his rating after he came to power in 2000 promising to enforce the law and end the chaos of the 1990s, when a handful of businessmen, like Khodorkovsky, gained vast wealth.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/11/01/yukos/index.html

Praxus
01 Nov 03,, 23:42
Since when is it bad to be disrespectful to criticize the violation of someone's rights.

Ray
02 Nov 03,, 04:02
Khodorovsky was a crook as are so many new rich Russians. Nothing new about it.

SQwert,

You are are in house Russia expert. May we have comments, please?

Jay
02 Nov 03,, 05:12
I dont think he's a crook!

He's just a shrewed businessman, he waited for the chance and made it possible!

I guess we cannot criticize much about Ratan Tata for purchasing VSNL. I guess Yukos was such an affair except it wasnt that transparent deal like VSNL!

Ironduke
02 Nov 03,, 05:58
It seems like a politically motivated move.

I've been told that Khodorovsky was very pro-US and was using his money to fund the Liberal Party in Russia, which Putin was strongly against.

Putin is acting like a dictator if you ask me. Already the two major Russian media oligarchs are in exile.

Praxus
02 Nov 03,, 14:17
Khodorovsky was a crook as are so many new rich Russians. Nothing new about it.

When you own one of the largest oil companies in the world, you tend to make a lot of money.

s_qwert63
02 Nov 03,, 16:00
Let Khodorovsky rot in jail, too bad the FSB didn't blow his head off. He's a pro-American mafioso who robs his own country.
A better idea would be to take all the money away from him and send him into exile to Israel.

Praxus
02 Nov 03,, 16:04
Don't you get it, it's the Russian Government trying to make a power grab.

I better idea would be to shoot you, and dangle your dead body over the kremlin.

bigross86
02 Nov 03,, 16:06
What do you have against Israel?

Praxus
02 Nov 03,, 16:09
He's an anti-semite and a Commie lover.

bigross86
02 Nov 03,, 16:14
Gee, what fun.

s_qwert63
02 Nov 03,, 16:21
Originally posted by bigross86
What do you have against Israel?

Khodorkovsky is Jewish.


He's an anti-semite.

eh?