A fascinating glimpse into the relationship between power and money in Putin’s Russia from the Telegraph’s Defence Editor.
“The relationship between Mr Putin and the cluster of billionaire businessmen who control a significant proportion of the country’s wealth has, historically, been conducted on a transactional basis. In return for not involving themselves in the Russian autocrat’s political agenda, the oligarchs are, by and large, allowed to pursue their commercial interests without undue interference from the Kremlin.”
Given the magnitude of the disaster now unfolding however, not least in Russia itself, that cosy relationship may be about to come to an end. Make no mistake, it’s a brave man who dares to take Putin on:
“Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was believed at one point to be the country’s wealthiest man, discovered this to his cost when he made the mistake of taking Mr Putin to task over rampant corruption in the highest echelons of the Russian government.
Back in the summer of 2001, when I first met Mr Khodorkovsky in Moscow, he came across as a friendly and energetic individual who had a genuine interest in promoting Russian democracy. When I subsequently saw him again at the end of last year, he seemed nervous and introverted, wary of making eye contact, presumably the result of the years he spent in a remote Russian penal colony for daring to challenge Mr Putin’s regime.
Other oligarchs who have crossed swords with Russia’s megalomaniacal leader have not been so lucky. Boris Berezovsky, a former business associate of Mr Abramovich who fled to London after becoming a vocal critic of Mr Putin, was found dead in mysterious circumstances at his Berkshire home in 2013 – a death his supporters still insist was the work of Russian security agents.”
The 64 billion dollar question is whether, faced with financial ruin, the oligarchs will find a way to elbow their benefactor aside.