In his book The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia, David E. Hoffman says, “Mikhail Khodorkovsky was a child of the last-ditch effort of the Soviet system to save itself. Desperate for a way out of stagnation, the Soviet leadership permitted a modest experiment in capitalism. It worked—and unleashed enormous, unexpected forces of change.” This experiment started at university where Khodorkovsky was the deputy chief of Komsomol, and he was more ambitious and ruthless than any other. At an extremely young age, Mikhail became one of the first titans of the new entrepreneurial age, a pioneering financier. By 2004, Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia and was 16th on Forbes list of billionaires.
Sometimes it is said that if something is too good to be true, then it normally is… Such was the case with Mikhail Khodorkovsky who on May 31, 2005 was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 9 years in prison, and by March of 2006 Forbes stated that Khodorkovsky’s personal fortune had diminished to a fraction of its former self, somewhere below $500 million. Khodorkovsky had his sentence reduced and was due to be released in 2011, but in 2009 along with partner Platon Lebedev, was tried on further charges of money laundering and embezzlement, and was sentenced to 14 more years in prison to run concurrently with the earlier sentence.
Khodorkovsky’s lawyers have claimed that senior officials at the Kremlin have created these charges against him when they objected to his activities when they entered the political arena. Prior to his imprisonment, Khodorkovsky had funded nearly all political parties, but had made little effort to hide his support to the liberal opposition to Vladimir Putin. In fact, when Putin was asked about Khodorkovsky before the verdict of his second trial in 2009, he compared Khodorkovsky to Bernie Madoff saying, “A thief must be in jail.”
Looking at this makes you wonder if the Kremlin is trying to keep Khodorkovsky silent. He was imprisoned for the 2007 elections, and his wife feels that he will remain locked up for the 2012 campaign. With Khodorkovsky remaining vocal behind bars, the 2012 election is definitely something to keep your eyes on.