"Potanin will be President. I'll be Prime Minister."
You think you can do anything.
There's some kind of secret oligarchy.
Heart rupture — he would've died there and then.
Most of your interviews involve
and deep reflection on what Russia is today.
Let's start unconventionally.
The last thing
that happened either in Russia or involving Russia
that made you genuinely happy.
I have to say,
if we're talking genuinely happy,
nothing really comes to mind on the fly.
Though it was
neat to find out
that our investors participate
in Muskian projects.
- I was intrigued... - You mean Elon Musk?
[Elon Musk] [World's greatest innovator] I was intrigued to find out
and hear about
all these discussions
about how our hackers
could've actually affected the US elections.
'Cause obviously, on the one hand,
it's absolutely ridiculous,
but on the other hand,
the idea itself that
budge the world's leading digital country
our nation is still regarded
with great respect in terms of technology.
Lots of people come to see you.
To both London and Switzerland, while you were there.
Which of these visits
you find most memorable?
Lyudmila Ulitskaya comes to visit.
She's a very smart and very interesting person.
By the way, I'm not a big fan of her books.
I tried reading them,
but, I gave it to her straight,
they're not for me.
I do admire her
as a person.
Well, she has this
strong, logical mind,
which I always love in a person.
She's a meticulous analyst
and a very consistent person
in terms of her views.
Probably more consistent than me.
Down here, I obviously also meet,
maybe not as often as I'd like to, with Akunin.
[Boris Akunin, writer] Recently, he's been
[Boris Akunin, writer] spending a lot of time here.
[Vladimir Sorokin, writer] I met with Sorokin.
[Vladimir Sorokin, writer] He's an interesting person.
After we met,
I now often
I wish he didn't write.
And I think, he no longer does.
They always scare me.
How do you support yourself?
I told already.
I still have considerable funds left over
from Yukos dividends.
I never really hid that from anyone.
I invested them
in my colleagues' ventures.
Again, this information is pretty open.
So I'm fairly well off.
I can support myself,
I don't spend too much on myself,
and I can finance my projects.
Our people, when they don't know who to ask,
they ask Yandex.
And according to our information, one of the
top-10 inquiries with the last name "Khodorkovsky,"
one of the top questions is:
how much money does Khodorkovsky currently have?
Can you reveal this sum?
Our government would love to have that information,
it is the very resource
that I'm using in my efforts
to depose our government as soon as possible.
Which is why I don't reveal this information.
Okay. Say instead of going political,
we tackle this off the back of media
that have traditionally been respectable,
or used to be — as is the case with Forbes magazine.
for the first time
in 13 or 14 years,
they put you back on the list of 200 richest people in Russia.
In that list, they estimate your net worth at $500 million.
How accurate is that number?
As I said,
I have good reasons to believe
that this information
is the kind of information that is
pivotal to our armed hostilities.
I call them 'armed' figuratively.
In reality, they're political.
Which is why I don't reveal it.
Last year, we learned that the Bank of Ireland
had unfrozen 100 million
dol... euros — the €100 million
that they'd frozen during the Yukos process —
and you got it back.
How does it happen?
They unfreeze it — you get access to that money?
Well, when I was in prison,
police forces of different countries were concerned about the money,
so they froze these funds.
After I got out,
I soon got on the matter with my lawyers.
I went to the local court
in Ireland, well, my lawyers did.
They said, "Guys, you either charge us with something..."
"...or unfreeze the money."
Their police spent some time on the case
and said they can't or won't charge me with anything.
I don't know which one it was. That's their domain.
The court ruled to unfreeze,
and I regained control of that money.
People with a bit of saved up capital always have funny stories
about some of the offers they get
as to where to invest said capital.
Since you got out, what was the craziest,
or at least the most unusual offer
as to where to invest this money?
You honestly think I have the time to read crazy offers?
Maybe a friend of a friend said, "You have to invest in this."
Come now. I don't read that sort of nonsense.
I told everyone:
guys, ten years in prison
have completely ruined my passion for business.
Like, I could still do it, but I'm not interested.
And because I'm not interested, I won't touch it.
- Gotcha. - That's it.
I've just finished renovating the old crib,
and once again found that
if you want something original,
if you want something kicking,
you have to keep looking, and looking, and looking.
It's a headache.
When I found out about ICON Designe,
I realized: no more headache.
Cool dudes from a small Moscow company
make furniture with unbelievable prints.
For instance, here's good old Marilyn.
I also got good old Elvis. He just didn't make it in time.
This is what I call 'European chaikhana.'
I love these splashy colors.
Here's a piece called 'People.'
I do have issues with the inner lining,
but the one outside is awesome!
Note: ICON's gorgeous prints are not limited to armchairs.
They make other furniture too.
Chairs, tables, wardrobes, pillows, pictures.
You can buy those from them just as easily.
The size of their lining portfolio rivals the figures on X's account.
With the promo code "Budet Dud',"
you get a 15% discount.
So down you go!
Not in the armchair. In the description.
And buy, and buy, and buy!
Let's go back in time.
This is something, and correct me if I'm wrong,
but this is something people have rarely discussed with you
after you got out of prison.
Still, a lot of people watching this interview
will be curious to go back,
if nothing, because they were pretty young when...
Even I was pretty young
[In 2003, Dud' was 17] in 2000s,
[In 2003, Dud' was 17] when the Yukos case was unraveling.
Preparing for this interview,
I watched a lot of videos from that time,
I also watched the last interview that you did
in Nizhny Novgorod, before your plane took off and headed towards Irkutsk.
[Not Irkutsk, but Novosibirsk] [(Dud' is an idiot)] Where you were later arrested.
[Not Irkutsk, but Novosibirsk] [(Dud' is an idiot)] Yeah.
In that interview, you radiated
this sort of ferocious self-confidence.
It looked like you were 100% certain that nothing could happen to you.
What gave you that confidence?
It's a common belief among people
that right before going to prison,
you're supposed to either try to run
or be completely certain you won't be sentenced.
That wasn't the case with me.
I got the chance to...
Right before going to jail, I used my opportunity...
I was given the chance to leave.
I used that chance to
go see my friends.
To say my goodbyes, to arrange
that they'd support my family while I'm in prison.
And when I was asked
during that trip
by respectable people
— not by my friends, but by respectable people —
how likely it was that I'd be sentenced,
I said it was around 30%.
Though I knew it was close to 100%.
It's a typical method
of psychological warfare.
By "chance to say goodbyes" you mean
they allowed you a trip to the US, right?
Yes. They let me leave the country.
They didn't care about the destination.
I went to Israel to visit my colleagues.
Some of them were in America, so I went there too.
Then I returned to Russia, which the government did not expect.
I returned for very simple, pragmatic reasons.
If I had left,
the government would not have only won
in this fight,
but it would've also been able
to drag me through the mud along with my
friends, and colleagues, and so on.
I'm sure you understand. If a person runs,
what's our immediate impression?
- Guilty. - That's right. Guilty.
And since you're guilty, they start telling...
'Cause who's gonna look into such complex matters
as all these economic affairs?
"You worked in a criminal circle."
What will the average person say?
"Well, seeing as my boss has run off,
and these respectable people are saying that I worked in a criminal circle."
"Then I probably did engage in criminal activities."
The hell?! To have this huge crowd of people believe they're criminals?
Did you ever regret coming back?
So you admit that that super self-confidence that you had
and your strategic decision to come back were mistakes?
I HAVE felt regret.
I'm only human.
But would I change it? No.
Ex-chair of Bank of Russia and Chairman of the Board of Yukos...
which he became after you were sentenced, as I understand...
...Viktor Geraschenko said:
"Khodorkovsky once felt lightheaded from his success."
Do you agree?..
...that in that time,
again, in 2003,
during your battles against Putin,
you felt lightheaded from your success?
I'm not sure I understand what 'felt lightheaded from success' means.
All successful people have a moment where they go a little crazy.
When you think you can do anything.
It was a different situation.
Quite understandable too.
I told about it once.
Our special forces
had an ongoing operation called "Energy."
They later discussed it, but very quietly.
The goal of this operation,
as I understand now,
I didn't back then,
was seizure and takeover
of the largest mineral companies
by the new team.
And they were choosing whom to start with.
Obviously, we knew about that.
It was an actual standoff.
They basically came to us and said:
I don't know if the younger generation watching will believe this,
but back then, it was unthinkable
for companies to shell out hundred million dollar bribes.
You had to leave the market.
Because if you wanted to work,
you had to be clean before the Western law.
Otherwise, you couldn't borrow money from banks,
you couldn't issue shares — nothing.
And we were gradually
moving towards greater and greater transparency.
IPOs at the time required a tremendous level of transparency.
And these people show up and go:
"Hey guys, how about we do a 180?"
We thought at the time
that only some people in Putin's surrounding wanted that.
Not all of them. Not Putin himself.
That was our mistake.
Was it lightheadedness due to success?
Or was it an honest mistake
caused by disbelief that the president of a huge country
could play money?
And that's what caused that conflict.
There are two legends.
First one. They say the conflict was caused
by something you said to Putin in front of witnesses,
when discussing the construction of a pipeline to China.
The phrase was, the quote varies, but the gist of it was:
"Economy is not your strongest suit."
"You don't even know how to handle the relationship with China."
This is what you allegedly told to Vladimir Putin,
which made him angry.
- Did you say something like that? - No. That's completely false.
I may come off a bit like
Konstantin Borovoi* or somebody like that. [*Politician and entrepreneur; outspoken anti-Putinist]
But in reality, I'm a very restrained person.
And even if it'd turned out that the president
wasn't savvy with something he's supposed to be savvy with,
— mind you, the president isn't supposed to know all about pipelines to China —
I would've obviously never said it to him, and certainly not in that tone.
And I didn't.
Okay. Second one.
After the famous RSPP meating,
["Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs"] where you had a conflict with Vladimir Putin,
Geraschenko said it by the way,
he wasn't present,
but alleged witnesses told him,
that you stormed out into the hallway and said,
"Potanin will be President. I'll be Prime Minister."
- Did that happen? - That's ridiculous.
All these small stories that the president's administration started
during my ten-year sentence
in order to obscure the real reasons of the opposition.
[Vladislav Surkov, Putin's former adviser] Surkov is a true expert in that matter.
[Vladislav Surkov, Putin's former adviser] And I regard his work highly.
Of course not. That's impossible.
Have you ever talked to Potanin?
[Vladimir Potanin, president of Interros conglomerate] If I had told Volodia something like that, especially in a Kremlin hallway,
his heart would've ruptured and he would've died there and then.
Oh, he's emotional?
I mean come on, to say something like that.
That's completely unreal.
Moreover, if I wanted to say something like that
to have it relayed to Putin,
I would've done it with better precision.
Can you imagine the head of the largest,
or one of the two largest, oil companies at the time
to be that impulsive?
Well, Mikhail Borisovich,
I imagine a different situation.
Times have changed,
but I can roll it back a bit and imagine how
and other businessmen
were used to the fact that for the last 7-8 years,
you've been in control of the country one way or another.
And vanity and self-confidence could've remained.
So this story sounds pretty realistic.
Have you ever
[Boris Berezovsky (1946-2013), billionaire] talked to Boris Abramovich?
[Boris Berezovsky (1946-2013), billionaire] - No. - You haven't?
- You mean Boris Berezovsky. - Yes.
He created this myth
that there's some kind of secret oligarchy out there
in control of the country.
And because it fit so well,
especially in the minds of the older generation
with their Marxist-Leninist philosophy,
this idea cemented itself.
- Come on, be sensible... - Mikhail Borisovich, wait a minute.
Are you sayin that the turm... term.
[Dud' made a common mispronunciation of the word 'term'] Contient — content,
[Dud' made a common mispronunciation of the word 'term'] turm — term. Yes.
Semibankirschina* didn't exist? [Group of seven bankers who allegedly controlled the president and 70% of all Russian money.]
That's inanity. [Group of seven bankers who allegedly controlled the president and 70% of all Russian money.]
Can you imagine
a president Yeltsin
who'd let anyone order him around?
Okay, in 1998, after his heart surgery,
the situation changed somewhat.
Prior to that — come on!
who ordered to shell the White House?
- That's silly talk. - That was in 1993.
Let's get something straight.
Boris Yeltsin did a lot for Russia.
We all have to remember that.
this man drank.
This man was ruling a broke country fighting a war in Chechnya.
This man desperately needed money.
And he was surrounded by an oligarchic elite that could give him said money.
Isn't that how it worked?
I suggest you talk
to some real bankers and investors.
They will tell you how the system actually works.
If your money is in rubles,
then all of your money is in Russian Central Bank.
If your money is in dollars,
then, sure, it's in the American Reserve System,
but given the relationship
Clinton and Yeltsin had,
given the treatment Russian business was getting at the time,
just like that, in a second,
that money could return to Russia
on Kremlin's orders.
Not a hint of discussion.
No competition of power,
not even close,
between business and the government.
This business made him the President in 1996.
If not for you and your rich colleagues,
he would've never, in a million years, beaten Zyuganov in that election.
To my great sorrow...
I have to make the same remark here you made earlier.
I deeply respected Boris Nikolayevich
and believe to this day that
he did a lot of good and important things for Russia,
It's ridiculous to sit here and hear these things.
Because Boris Nikolayevich
was a man who made very strict decisions.
And if he had to make a strong decision regarding business,
he would've made it instantaneously.
We weren't considered equal partners
to the government.
At the time, the dialogue
was actually between
the group headed
by Soskovets and Korzhakov
and the group that was eventually branded
though fortunately, Chubais
was playing the main role there,
[Anatoly Chubais, then First Deputy PM of Russia] otherwise, Yeltsin would not have even considered us.
[Anatoly Chubais, then First Deputy PM of Russia] The idea
of Soskovets and Korzhakov's group was very simple.
Impose martial law.
Outlaw the communist party.
And keep Boris Nikolayevich in office without any elections.
- This happened in 1996? - Yes, in 1996.
- In 1995, more specifically. - Aha.
Transitioning into 1996.
We knew what this could lead to.
But Boris Nikolayevich,
and this is what I'm trying to get across,
he didn't even consider the possibility of giving up reins.
In that regard, he then and Putin now
are very much alike. He WAS like that.
The situation later changed.
So when we went to him to suggest
— we went together —
to suggest to hold the election after all,
"And you will win it, Boris Nikolayevich,"
the alternative was
imposition of martial law.
Korzhakov held us up before Yeltsin's door
who said very politely, "Boys, you're going to Lefortovo after this."
[Lefortovo pretrial detention center] And had we failed to convince
we WOULD'VE ended up in Lefortovo.
So Yeltsin accepted your terms
and told Korzhakov not to take you to Lefortovo, and...
As a result of that meeting, as you remember,
you may remember the incident,
that team was taken off the election campaign.
Two questions then.
I wanted to discuss the '96 election later, but since we're on the matter,
I have exactly two questions.
did you manage to win that election,
considering that Nemtsov's... I mean Yeltsin's rating
six months before the election was very low.
Zyuganov had him down and out.
Again, you have to keep in mind the reality of the situation.
Back then, I wasn't involved in any political
or even large-scale social processes.
I was doing business.
We had our people working on the team,
but I didn't participate in it directly,
so I can't tell you specific methods.
What was your role?
You sponsored that campaign.
We delegated our own specialists
we used our capabilities to push that campaign forward.
But our business-specific capabilities were marginal.
It was mostly about people
in charge of mass media channels.
We were more like backup dancers in that situation.
Two more questions.
You said "we went together." Who's "we?"
Who went to that meeting?
I could be wrong, but I think we had...
Obviously, we had Gusinsky, we had Berezovsky, we had,
if memory serves, Potanin,
we had Chubais,
and I can't remember the whole list.
In an interview with Ksenia Sokolova you said:
"I fought for Yeltsin in '91."
"I fought for Yeltsin in '93."
"I fought for Yeltsin in '96."
Boris Yeltsin, a man of advanced age
with serious health issues,
had a heart attack between first and second ballot,
as I understand it.
Can you explain why you fought for him
and why you were making, basically, a living corpse President?
Again, will all due respect to Yeltsin and everything he did for Russia.
- Once again... - This was his third heart attack, I believe.
I'm trying to explain this to you,
but for reasons I can understand,
you can't hear the message.
Nobody made Yeltsin President.
I meant, why were you on his side? Let's put it that way.
Why? This was...
Because the alternative was a state of emergency.
Because nobody would've given up the reins.
Because we've seen what could happen in '93 and '94.
And we didn't want that to happen again in '96 on the streets of Moscow.
Because deep inside
— and this is my main conviction —
I'm a devout Voltairian.
I believe that every person has the right
to express their opinion.
And if 20 million citizens
believe that communists represent their political views best,
then there have to be communists in the parliament,
and they have to occupy a major role in said parliament.
When people stop believing that, the communists will go away.
But this is my deep conviction.
And being forced to choose between bad and very bad,
yes, I chose the bad.
I was choosing for myself.
So if Zyuganov had won, it would've been chaos?
I'm not talking about Zyuganov. He could not have won.
Zyuganov could not have won.
Who actually won the election is shrouded in mystery,
though I believe that, actually,
the majority still voted for...
But whatever the case,
if Zyuganov had wanted to take the office,
he would've had to rally people in the streets.
He'd have to
stand up to defend his victory.
He wasn't ready for that.
That's the main reason he lost.
How did Boris Berezovsky die, according to your knowledge?
I don't have grounds to believe that it wasn't
his own decision.
But I'm very careful in such matters.
- So I think... - You allow that it could've been suicide?
I do, though initially I didn't believe it.
I didn't believe it initially, but then I met with people
who were close to Boris Abramovich,
and they told me he was severely depressed
due to some financial issues
that in reality weren't as horrible.
But in his mind, he saw them differently.
So I allow that possibility.
Had he lived to the day...
- I mean, you got out after he... - Yes.
If he came to you and said...
Let's say he had $50 million of debt remaining.
If he'd asked for help, how would you have reacted?
I doubt that Boris Abramovich,
who was a very serious person in these matters
and who gave me a loan in '98
with 100% annual percentage rate...
So I doubt he would've approached...
- You? - ...me with this idea.
Was '90s privatization fraud?
If there's such a thing as inadvertent fraud,
then that's what happened.
I don't know
if all of your modern
the younger ones, 12- and 13-year-olds, understand that...
Kids THAT young won't watch this, but yeah.
Well, I meant the youngest of the bunch.
How well they understand that
an iPhone or another phone that they
type 200 symbols per minute on
can be an insurmountable barrier
for their grandmas and grandpas.
Even for their parents.
I think a lot of them don't realize that.
So I'd say that privatization,
at the time,
generally pretty transparent.
Everyone was explained everything.
Everyone was informed.
And everyone could've had
This "could've" is very important, which is why I put it that way.
If the older generation,
if people who didn't live in Moscow or other major cities
could comprehend the nature of the new
the new economic arrangement.
They couldn't comprehend it.
As a result, they couldn't utilize the opportunities presented to them.
The fact that they weren't properly taught
— they really weren't —
the opportunities they had,
and let me also point out that
it was an impossible task to complete in 1.5-2 years,
this is the essence of what we might call,
or qualify, as cheating.
THAT was cheating.
It was discussed at the time.
And by the way, as for myself, I held a position.
that I'm not ashamed of today.
What was this position?
I believed that
we didn't need to privatize
100% of companies' shares.
We could lock in a portion of them in pension funds,
if such a need arose.
when privatization as we know it today began...
What were those discussions like?
You gathered in a casino on the Arbat...
- You jest. - ...with Prokhorov and the rest?
I mean, how? Phones? You had different technologies.
What would've been the point of participating in those discussions for me?
Discussions with the government, that is.
I upheld an opinion.
I shared it with mine.
I shared it with my circle.
But I wasn't in the government.
Have you ever felt ashamed
for taking part in those events?
If I'm discussing it like a real problem, right? —
then it means I recognize it as one.
How would you answer the question that's brought up very often
in discussions about you
and not only by pro-government types, but also by those
who are potentially willing to support you and agree with you:
how are you and your colleagues from the '90s
fundamentally different from so-called "Putin's friends" today?
You and your colleagues technically divided the country into zones back then.
So-called "Putin's friends"
are also essentially dividing the industry and the country into zones today.
What's the difference?
There's a fundamental difference.
At some point, it was even
explained with a single phrase.
"Don't take from losses."
The people I worked with...
I won't speak for everyone, but I'll speak for myself.
We always made profits,
and whatever we took for ourselves, we took from profits.
We never had situations,
where we'd take money from state budget
and outright steal it without reimbursing
As hard as they tried to impute it to me
during my ten years of hardship,
They tried. They did.
But back then, the state was so poor,
that if someone had tried to properly leech off of it,
everyone would've noticed it.
We didn't do so back then.
I don't know if it was morality.
Probably not. Some were moral, some weren't.
That's not the point.
We didn't even consider
that you could so blatantly
out of the state pocket.
If someone told me
in, like, ninety...
or in '98 or '99,
that you can do 60% kickbacks, even 30%...
Who does that?
So I was in prison with a guy who did road construction.
And we discussed how
things were done —
in my time, in his time.
That was my second trial, so...
It was in the '10s.
I told him that in our time,
they'd muscle out money in a variety of ways to finance
and it would sometimes amount to 3-5% of volume.
And you'd pay up?
Well, I mean,
it wasn't a 'take out the cash and put it in a suitcase' sort of deal.
They'd tell you to finance
the construction of a resort or some such thing,
which would eventually help the person
— you still needed to win a vote back then — to get elected into State Duma, for instance.
Of course we'd pay up.
- Where do you run from a burning plane? - And now?
He said, "Lucky you!"
"To me, 70% is standard."
I go, "How do you build the road for just 30%?"
He goes, "Somehow."
That explains a lot.
In terms of road quality.
Have you seen The Shawshank Redemption?
It's considered one of the greatest prison break films.
Saw it, but don't recall.
Kind of didn't strike me.
I was always curious if they allowed prison break films in jail.
They do, actually.
At least, I haven't seen any restrictions regarding the matter.
'Cause, after all, it's all such childish nonsense.
- Is it? - Although...
there was this remarkable story.
I was in prison in Chita.
And my lawyer was defending so-called "escapees" — guys who ran away.
Their infirmary is located on the first floor.
And these guys managed to dig out an underground tunnel,
164 meters* in length, [*~180 yards]
and come out behind the back wall of a bus stop.
Admittedly, they were miners.
How they snuck out all that dirt and dumped it in the courtyard...
What did they use? A fork?
There were several theories.
But they used makeshift tools.
They dug through 164 meters in a straight line and escaped.
Let's finish off Semibankirschina.
We touched on it briefly.
Why do you deny it existed?
Why do you disagree with the term?
We're talking about controlling the country, right?
to me, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin,
in '93 and in '96,
was a president
who was a lot further from me
than Putin was even in 2003.
Putin was basically a man from our generation.
We knew where he came from.
We graduated from the same universities.
Think about it: Putin is from the '90s too.
While Yeltsin was this sort of monument
that came from the age before.
And I've known about him since 1985.
To you — sure.
But to someone like Boris Berezovsky, another actor of Semibankirschina...
He was right next to him.
Don't believe it.
I've watched this movie.
From Krichevskaya. The Man Who Was Too Free.
- About Boris Nemtsov. - Yes, about him.
And it had a cute episode
where Boris Nemtsov and Tatiana Dyachenko
tell about the moment Boris Nemtsov was appointed Deputy PM
and how Boris Berezovsky was involved.
It's a joke.
This man would...
He spent all his time haunting Kremlin hallways.
Or those of White House, depending...
Depending on which one it was — or waiting rooms.
He spent a lot of money on it.
And whenever he caught wind of these things,
that someone was being appointed something,
which usually would slip out a bit ahead of time,
he'd rush to that person
and go, "I am working on your problem."
"I'm working on your problem."
And a lot of people fell for it.
'Cause, hey, they did get appointed!
They act out at great length how that would happen.
You should watch it.
Absolutely. I've heard it's a film deserving a watch.
But wait, so it wasn't Boris Berezovsky who
appointed Putin tsar after Yeltsin?
As I said,
this was happening
Putin was appointed director of FSB.
The incident with Stepashin
and the incident with then prosecutor Skuratov.
I'm sure you remember that.
The guy busted with those girls in a banya.
Some refused to take part in that sting, some agreed.
The person who agreed...
was deemed loyal enough.
And who was that person?
I don't have any proof.
So at this point, I can only assume.
So you're saying that Vladimir Putin
may have been involved in that scandal from the TV?
- If you ask my personal opinion... - Yes.
I am completely certain of it.
Yeltsin leaves. The aughts.
Can you explain why you sponsored
almost every opposition party in the land?
I've always supported all parties,
all political parties, that I found more or less sane.
So you thought everyone was sane, except Unity?
Actually, Unity received support without my involvement.
From my colleagues.
I had complete freedom in that matter in my company.
Everyone could support whichever party they saw fit.
What was the point?
My personal beliefs...
In lobbying, right? To have people who'd help you out...
- That's silly. - ...in Duma.
It's easier to make a deal with someone when they're already in Duma.
No, this was exclusively
inherent understanding of the fact that,
as I told you,
people must be represented.
That's my inherent conviction.
I did the same when Yeltsin was in office.
I supported the opposition.
when we had a major conflict with...
No, even prior to that. In '91,
when the SCSE altercation happened.
When that was done with,
I still supported the people who were in the SCSE.
Because I believed they had the right to stand where they stood.
Yeltsin knew about that.
After the events of '93,
where, again, if they had won, I would've ended up at least in prison,
because I held a very specific position...
I mean, in general,
I always loved to be on the forefront, and still do.
But when it was all over and they let Rutskoy out of prison,
and he was broke, I helped him out,
simply because I believe that
there has to be opposition, and you shouldn't finish it off.
I carried that view over into
The problem was, Putin didn't share Boris Yeltsin's views.
So you supported the communists as well?
We had people who supported the communists.
- It wasn't... - Zhirinovsky?
You gave Zhirinovsky Smoney?
I can't recall.
I don't believe I gave money to Zhirinovsky himself.
But if the case arose, I would've. No problem.
Again, if you...
It's a freak show. It's not politics.
It doesn't matter.
If your country has
20 million people
or, in Zhirinovsky's case, 10 million people,
who want this person to represent their political interests in the parliament,
then be so kind as to grant them this opportunity.
Try to convince them that it's wrong. Please, do.
But when you start filtering people in the parliament:
this one's a freak, this one has communist views,
that one's doing something else wrong —
you get what you got today.
I fear people have not grasped this main lesson.
You have retraced how you were released from prison many times.
But I've never read or heard this.
Could you retrace that landing in Irkutsk?..
[Dud' is still an idiot] Not in Irkutsk. In Novosibirsk.
Right. In Novosibirsk.
What happened? I mean...
We landed in Novosibirsk.
[25 October, 2003] Saw a wide cordon around the plane.
- Immediately? - Yeah.
The circle was wide. Probably a whole battalion.
Another plane landed nearby. Out of my sight. An IL-86.
A SWAT team entered our plane. They were very polite.
They sent people I knew.
They wanted to avoid conflict.
There obviously wasn't any screaming or fighting,
like in Tuschi's film.
That's his artistic license.
They just said, "We have orders to fly you as a witness,"
a 'witness,' "to Moscow."
Did that ferocious self-confidence dissolve there and then?
I never had it in the first place.
It was a projection.
- I explained it earlier. - Yes. You were...
Could you imagine, when the SWAT team was entering the plane,
imagine the number 10?
That you'd spend 10 years in prison.
When I talked to my guys,
we thought two, four — tops.
We were certain that
you couldn't take this case
You could not take it to court.
Because no court would entertain something that ludicrous.
Boy, was I naïve.
Were there any thieves in law in your prison?
There were in the second one, in Karelia.
And also in pretrial detention, in SIZOs.
- How did you communicate with them? - I didn't.
I just didn't.
I'm from a different realm.
I've never withheld my views on the matter.
I said, "I put you away when I was the head of an oil company."
"And I will,
if the need arises, continue putting you away."
They met this position of mine with understanding.
Just to clarify: what do you mean by "continue putting away?"
Well, people trying to misappropriate an oil company
or intimidating, as they did in our oil-producing towns,
which those same thieves in law were doing —
they were intimidating our employees — so we stepped in.
Why couldn't they use their in-prison influence against you?
It's not that easy.
First of all, you could be exaggerating their influence in your mind.
these are people who are used to relative comfort inside the prison.
After staging such an attack, you could lose said comfort.
The charges. Mikhail Borisovich, look...
I didn't catch the '90s as a conscious person,
a truly conscious person.
What I learned from talking to many different people,
including those 10-15 years older than me,
who built their careers in the '90s.
From many different people I heard that,
in their business practices, the oil crowd
used to use the roughest of methods.
Why did I hear that so often?
- And... - Yeah?
This will be a completely baseless show and all,
but I heard that about your company too.
Why did they say that?
Because people have a certain mental image of the matter.
People think: it cannot be any other way.
But if you look at what really happened,
you can clearly see that
after these new businessmen
replaced the old
that the killing spree ended.
The reason for that was pretty clear and simple.
How did thugs make money off of oil companies?
Managers of oil-producing offices,
because money was scarce back then, got a quota of oil to sell.
And they used these oil quotas
to supply the workforce with consumer goods, etc.
He gets a visit from thugs.
Imagine: he lives in a small town, in some Pyt-Yakh, or I don't know.
Noyabrsk is a large city.
Management usually sits in a small town.
He gets a visit. His family is right here. No guards or anything.
They tell him: you either give up the oil
or your kids won't reach school tomorrow.
Obviously, he gives it up.
Obviously, he does.
Chechens did it. Lots of different folks did.
When we rolled in, the first thing I did
was issue an order saying that
only I have the right to allocate oil.
This was in my criminal case.
"In order to steal all the oil, Khodorkovsky..."
Yeah, "stole all the oil."
Yeah. "To that end, he monopolized the right to allocate oil."
What did it do?
My order extends to transportation.
Meaning, without my signature, transportation won't...
transport the oil.
As a result, visiting and intimidating these managers
They show up. He goes, "I can sign whatever."
"But without Khodorkovsky's signature, they won't release the oil."
"Go talk to Khodorkovsky."
Well, first of all, I'm far away. I'm in Moscow.
Second, because I have nothing to hide,
We had the Organized Crime Division.
I wouldn't hesitate.
As soon as I hear a threat, let's go.
Do you allow
that people could've been killed without you knowing?
I'm a top manager. I'm not the head of the company.
I was tasked... with something.
And to that end, I'm about to say something awful,
I need to kill the mayor of a town who won't cooperate.
And I do it without telling the owner of the company.
If the mayor of the town had had a say in something,
I could probably allow
that someone could've made
a decision of some sort.
The problem was that the mayor didn't have a say.
And that ended up being the key problem,
which our dearest prosecution choked on.
They would've loved to charge me with that.
They spent ten years circling me with that charge.
Why didn't they?
You try and explain to people:
what was the point of...
What could the mayor of a small Novosibirsk town have possibly been in charge of?
What did he decide?
How do you explain the fact that the widow of said mayor blames you?
[According to the prosecution, in 1998] [a Yukos security officer named] I want to remind you that initially she
[Alexey Pichugin organized the murder of] [THE MAYOR OF NEFTEYUGANSK] changed her perspective several times.
[Vladimir Petukhov, under direct orders] Right.
[from Yukos' chair, Leonid Nevzlin] You mean,
this was because there were people working with her?
I don't want discuss all the theories that exist right now.
Moreover, if you look it up,
the funny thing is, the case was solved.
You mentioned that they found the killers.
Yeah. And let them go.
And then suddenly identified completely different persons.
2014. March. Ukraine.
You went to appear on the Maidan.
(Crowd): Thank you! Thank you!
I believe that Russia and Ukraine
share a common, European path of development.
I wish you luck.
I've heard accounts that
your life after prison,
including your outlook, changed there:
that prior to that trip, you never considered going into politics,
even tangentially, really tangentially,
but standing on the Maidan changed something.
That's not exactly true.
When I was being
transported from the labor camp,
I was aboard a plane,
an FSB plane, that is.
Also aboard was the person in charge of the whole Yukos case.
And FSB agent.
I told him,
I said, "Since we both know that the order hasn't been signed yet,
"and I'm still here,
"let's discuss this."
"You do realize that if... that when I get out,
"I won't sit around on my ass, right?"
He said, "We do."
"Maybe you want to offer me some...
"You want to draw red lines for me?
"I'll decide whether I accept those red lines or I don't. And...
"As result, the order won't be signed."
He said, "I don't have any directives on this subject.
"But I'll ask my superiors."
this man hasn't told me anything on the matter
and hasn't contacted me at all.
Consequently, I am
settled in the belief that
the only obligation I've taken upon myself
until the time of my release, which was coming up,
I only take care of my family and don't touch politics.
And that's exactly what happened, because
unfortunately, I had problems in my family — I stayed close to my mom,
and the only exception I did
didn't concern Russian politics,
it concerned Ukrainian politics.
Is it true that you were offered or it was discussed
to offer you the office of Minister of Energy of Ukraine.
Nobody offered me that personally.
- But you heard about it. - I did.
But nobody approached me.
And it was pretty obvious that
I'd never agree to something like that.
What about the office of Prime Minister of Ukraine?
Political work in a country like that,
one facing a critical juncture,
like Ukraine currently does,
is always a huge risk, and it's always
a bad rep with people.
Long-term memories may be good one day.
I'm willing to take these risks for my own country,
but to take these risks for a respectable, but
foreign country, I obviously cannot.
Open Russia. The organization you founded in 2014.
What are the top two or three things
it's accomplished in almost three years
you're proud of or very happy with?
I believe Open Russia's website
eventually became a pretty good project.
Maybe it isn't as successful as your blog,
but in its own category,
which you could call human right-liberal,
it's not doing too badly.
Our human rights branch in general turned out pretty good.
It, as we learned during
these recent spring developments,
proved itself as one of maybe three organizations
capable of promptly spreading out
into a wide network that can help a lot of people.
Do you know what reputation Open Russia has in Moscow,
the so-called liberal intelligentsia?
I read it pretty regularly on...
- Facebook. - Right.
For those unaware,
said liberal intelligentsia considers Open Russia
a very obscure project,
plagued with chaos
and with a weird selection of employees,
many of whom people suspect of
being in it just to leech money out of you.
How do you react to it?
I don't react to it at all.
People want to believe that, for instance,
someone like Masha Baronova
[Maria Baronova, public activist] shouldn't work for Open Russia,
[Maria Baronova, public activist] because she has
with certain people and whatnot.
Because she's hyperemotional.
Or hyperemotional or whatever.
I reckon: does she want to participate in public activity?
Can she do it?
Does she save and actually help people?
Then I'll endure
whatever they write on their facebooks. I don't care.
After you got out, what was your record expenditure?
Was there a capital purchase?
Did you have a whim
that hit your bank account real hard?
I think the biggest whim was my wife saying,
"I don't want to live in a rented house. I want our own."
Damn. It was like 30% over market price.
Because of the specific house?
Because the person selling it
actually had to pay the taxes for the sale, so we
were forced to reimburse him this sum.
But I saw that to my wife, this was very...
- Important? - Very important.
You may say that number.
It's the house outside London, right?
No, that's when I bought one in Switzerland.
- Oh, Switzerland? - Yes. I bought a house there.
Yes, you can probably estimate it
at £2 million.
Last year, Open Russia went to the election.
[The Duma election] The strategy blew my freaking mind when I saw it.
Open Russia — do I get it right? —
was looking for candidates to support literally through classifieds.
- So online selection, interview... - Yes.
You actually consider this a reasonable method
of selecting deputies who will end up in State Duma
and, one way or another, steer our lives?
If we were talking about real deputies,
if it were real deputies,
and a normal electoral system,
then of course we would've needed primaries.
But in the situation our country is currently in,
where the electoral system is bent and broken,
and the the political system is bent and broken,
how else do you let young people show themselves?
You either go to United Russia's office,
or — what else can you do to try yourself?
How else can you try to become a public and political worker?
But this could be anyone! They could have Chikatilo's poster at home.
They have no reputation.
How do you figure them out if they've walked in from the street?
Well, after all, out of 450 people, we've selected
twenty... twenty three, I think.
So you can't say we didn't examine people at all.
I mean, otherwise,
the amount of drama
around these people would've been a lot greater.
So no, we picked people who, according to our evaluation,
And I'm glad that we were right about a large portion of them.
They've become the backbone of Open Russia
currently working throughout the country.
Maria Baronova, who took active part in this process,
said that the election...
the support of election, not the whole process,
cost you $3 million. Is that number true?
I cannot comment on this matter.
I don't want to comment.
It's not because I'm embarrassed to tell.
Rather, I don't want to set up anyone.
Set up? Why? It's your money.
That's true. But unfortunately,
Our government has different interpretations
of my activities.
Whatever the case, we're talking over $1 million.
In these post-election days, do you feel that
you flushed this money down the toilet?
That you wasted it?
If we are looking at
a real political campaign,
then sure, the criterion of its success is winning the election.
But in the situation we were in,
winning the election was out of the question,
because obviously no one would've allowed that.
Was it worth the investment, the time, the effort, and the reputation
to find 15-ish people all over Russia
who rallied the activists gathered in the course of this election...
who comprised the backbone of Open Russia?
I think it definitely was.
We basically currently see the same thing acted out by Alexei Navalny,
who most likely isn't entering no election race.
I mean, the election commission was pretty clear
And the government's actions betray that that statement was pre-arranged.
Nevertheless, he's spending a lot of funds all over the country
to attract people to election teams.
And I don't think it's for naught. It's very important.
Let's say something happens,
and Navalny is allowed to enter Presidential Election '18,
and let's say he wins.
What would be your reaction?
Would you be happy or scared?
On the one hand, I would be happy,
because I believe that alternation of power is always good.
On the other hand, I'd definitely say,
"Everyone, it's time to stockpile."
You envision hunger?
- Not hunger. I meant... - War?
...in a broader sense.
No. We'll just return to
nobody's favorite system, power monopoly,
for, I don't know, several
years, five or six years.
What's power monopoly?
Power monopoly is when a country has a single center of legitimacy.
A single center empowered to make decisions.
All others depend on it.
- So same thing as now? - Yes.
Oh, so you see an equals sign between Navalny and Putin?
No, I don't. I repeat.
Alternation is always better.
At the start of his path, Putin was stealing a lot less than he does today.
Or let his surrounding steal —
we don't know if Putin pockets anything himself or not.
But he let his surrounding steal a lot less.
At the start of his path, Putin was a lot more liberal than he is today, right?
But the path our country's leaders follow
is always more or less the same.
And from that standpoint,
I believe it's very important
that Navalny gets to rule
and other people get to rule,
those who represent
certain groups of...
But there's no doubt in your mind that Navalny would eventually become Putin?
I can't say...
Look, you can't tell if a person... I can't even say about Putin with certainty
that he cannot change.
But in my experience,
everyone whom I held in
very high regard,
I knew them a lot better than I know Alexei today,
they all underwent this evolution.
To my great dismay.
Naturally, I fear this situation will repeat itself.
And that is exactly why I believe that
we need to think of WHAT to replace Putin with, rather than WHOM.
And this is my position today.
Okay. And there's no other name except Navalny,
if we imagine that, I mean...
Parliamentary republic is way in the past,
we're talking about 2018.
[Election is to the parliament] I think you...
[Election is to the parliament] Who could become president if not him?
I think you're too...
pessimistic about our country.
We had the opportunity...
We had a parliamentary republic.
And if not for Khasbulatov,
then we may have kept that form of government.
Yes, we would've been a president-parliamentary republic at first,
but I believe that real change of government in our country
will, first, happen in the next eight years,
and second, it's going to be a change to
a president-parliamentary or parliamentary republic.
No other change will happen.
Another legend why you ended up in prison.
Allegedly, there's a recording of your conversation with the Americans,
where you say that you're prepared to sponsor
the transformation of Russia into a parliamentary republic.
I think they said I was discussing it with Condoleezza Rice.
I think if I had told her something like that,
she would've done
the cuckoo sign and said,
"Bartender, cut him off."
Come on. Are you kidding?
Russian nuclear weapons
are a very important buffer to us
against increasing military expenses.
Realistically, nuclear weapons allow us to
— if we didn't engage in current government's nonsense —
spend a lot smaller percentage of our GDP on the military.
It's a very important characteristic of our country.
So first, nobody would promise something this stupid.
And second, if someone did promise that,
no one would be stupid enough to believe them.
And if it's promised by one of the... the richest man in Russia?
[In 2003, Khodorkovsky had $15 billion] Then this rich man...
[In 2003, Khodorkovsky had $15 billion] Who has the money to do that.
Who sponsors opposition parties.
Well, first off, any smart man knows that
there's a limit
to what money can buy.
While people who believe the opposite
are not too bright.
Yeah. And second,
when you talk to someone you respect,
you usually don't expect nonsense from them.
Well, to promise to put your country into a disadvantageous position,
especially, without any guarantees of fulfillment of said promise...
Imagine: you win, and you just go, "No."
- Right? - Yeah.
And then what? Nothing.
It's a commitment with no guarantee of delivery.
To mention such a commitment is to disrespect your partner.
What is your dream today?
Do save global peace, and family, and other banalities.
No, none of that "global peace."
I really hope that I can
return to Russia one day
and feel like
a free man there.
Say, I'm walking down the street,
and a police officer is walking towards me.
But I don't care. Or I can ask him for directions.
Say, I'm walking down the street,
or driving a car rather,
and there are no motorcades to push me off the road every three minutes.
I really hope to return to this kind of Russia in my lifetime.
Did you have a cell phone in prison?
No, I didn't have a cell phone in prison.
When did you first hold this invention that changed the world?
Was it during a visit from the family or only when you got out?
I won't tell you.
It's still... sensitive information.
- Sensitive? - Yes.
So it somehow found its way into your cell then.
It's still sensitive information.
Okay. Nevermind the circumstances. Do you recall what you felt?
- Did you realize that this is insane? - Yes. Yes, I did.
I mean I used to work with computers.
In fact, my business started with computers.
- Right. - And...
They were a hobby of mine in college.
It was simpler back then with Fortrans and whatnot.
I preferred it that way.
I could see how this whole system was developing.
It was developing fast,
and we tried to grab all the new stuff.
In our company, we actually
adopted not just paperless technology —
we adopted a model that was later adopted by Apple.
But it was built for a single large company.
And here I'm holding it,
and it's become a common household appliance!
Oh, and you built yours for some elite, for the state.
Not for the state, for the company.
But it was a project that we bought...
- And this was for everyone. - Yeah. For everyone.
And it cost, compared to what we paid for it then,
I knew what kind of boost our company got
from this project of ours, this paperless tech,
this access to computer models.
I realized that now, instead of tens of thousands,
hundreds of millions had access to this.
This was an actual revolution.
We have a very short segment at the end,
where we ask short questions, but short answers aren't a must.
I will sometimes demand clarification.
Best city in the world?
I really love Moscow, because I've lived there all my life.
In addition to Moscow, I really love Tomsk.
- And currently... - Tomsk?!
Yeah. I'm in love with Tomsk.
I personally know that their girls are incredibly beautiful.
It's a college city where your eyes just pop outta their sockets.
- It's really... - Was your reason the same?
It's really... Not anymore.
It's a very energetic city. It really is.
Down there you feel...
It doesn't have the slumber
that annoys me in Russian cities outside Moscow.
I love movement. I love energy.
And Tomsk has it.
Ksenia Sobchak or Lyubov Sobol?
I really like Sobchak.
I'm very positive about her.
I think she's very talented.
I know Lyuba Sobol,
and I hope,
after a few years,
if she continues doing what she's doing,
she'll reach the same level.
But of course, today, when I watch
Sobchak's best talks,best ones — she has bad ones too,
and Lyuba's best talks,
Sobchak is still more professional.
But Lyuba has a lot more time.
No one's ever called Ksenia Sobchak an old bat this elegantly.
And the key one.
If you stood before Putin, what would you tell him?
You know when I watched
your interview with Navalny...
I would've asked this question,
but I think...
There are two options.
I hope you don't mind me expounding here.
Sure. Go ahead.
First option: he lies.
Then it's pointless.
Why ask if the person is going to lie? There's no point.
But let's imagine he's going to answer honestly.
What would I like to know then?
Vladimir Vladimirovich, why aren't you leaving?
What's his honest answer? I know it. "I'm scared."
"I'm scared." And he should be.
Obviously, the risks are huge.
Why "scared?" Maybe there's no one to entrust it to?
- No one to entrust... - Sure, it's his fault!
He got rid of them himself. But there's no one.
If there's no one to entrust it to, that means what?
He'll end up in trouble.
Wait. Didn't Boris Yeltsin manage to arrange that nobody hurt him?
- Putin can't. - Why?
Unfrotunately, unlike Boris Yeltsin,
to whom personal risks, until the very end,
were less important than the country,
to Putin, I fear, I'd love to be wrong,
but I believe to him, personal risks
and risks for his surrounding,
which at this point manipulates him to a large degree,
outweigh the problems for the country.
And that's why he'll find it very hard to arrange peace.
We could ask him another question. For example:
why do you help your friends from Ozero cooperative
— the issue Navalny keeps pursuing —
This is causing you enormous political damage?
Mikhail Borisovich, what about the question...
And again, we know the answer.
What is it?
It's something viscerally close to a Russian person,
but nasty at the same time.
Mikhail Borisovich, I could've asked this earlier,
but we veered away.
Have you ever thought that after coming out,
you're a lot like Putin in that.
'Cause you're surrounding yourself with people,
and this is the opinion of a lot of people who worked with you in different roles,
I've talked to them on my way to you...
It feels like Khodorkovsky surrounds himself not
with those who are good at what they do,
but with those whom he trusts.
And you too often hire people, mostly seeking
allegiance, loyalty, devotion.
Our circumstances differ, you'll agree.
If I'm governing the country and doing it lawfully, right? —
then the law supports me.
If I'm in the opposition to the government
that solves matters unlawfully,
then people who approach me
are, by default, driven.
They are, by default, willing to risk.
And in that sense, you could call them loyal.
Because they don't just come to work. They take risks.
So what can you do? That's the circumstances we're in.
But mind you,
I don't peg the team working in Open Russia
as the team that could replace Vladimir Putin.
Well, who knows?
What if you go there, let's say?
You said yourself that you WOULD become the anti-crisis president.
Let's say, you become the anti-crisis president.
Where's the guarantee that all these people who've been loyal to you, who...
I'm genuinely not jibing here,
who stayed loyal to you while you were in prison,
who became your friends while you were in prison, through writing or whatever,
that you won't invite them to rule?
Where's the guarantee?
This was actually a great moment in your interview with Alexei.
I had a lot of fun, when
you were discussing leaderism,
and he said, "I have a lot of people on my team
who could be future ministers."
Do you agree that you're a leaderist?
Absolutely, a hundred percent no.
So, you probably know a lot of people
at the Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Maybe some of the people on his team could be future ministers.
But that's not the point.
The point is what
goal I set for myself from the get-go.
My goal from the get-to
is to have a government of people who represent their
regions, their cities,
And it's highly unlikely that this gathering of people
will include most people in Open Russia today.
It'll include some of them.
But it will also include many people unlike them, much lefter ones.
I think THAT is what's important.
We from the get-to...
Don't expect that a kind tsar will come along and make everyone happy.
You need to, from the get-go, aim to simultaneously bring a large number
of representatives of the Russian society to power.
That's what I'm doing.
In the wrap-up, we take the gift
from our guest.
If the gift...
Oops. There it goes.
We developed a game called Instead of Putin,
that, at first, had everyone laughing: what a silly Monopoly ripoff,
but when we offered these guys to try it,
we had to fight to drag them from...
- So it's a board game? - It's a board game.
It's called Instead of Putin.
Okay. Instead of Putin.
Damn, it kinda contradicts the idea of the contest
that we wanted to offer to our subscribers
who will definitely subscribe and do what they have to do,
but okay, let's keep the contradiction anyway.
It's just that we...
We think that, unfortunately, politics in Russia is currently pointless.
It doesn't mean you shouldn't touch it,
but we're a bit upset that you've gone full-on politics,
'cause you were a businessman.
You said it yourself that you ignore everyone who brings you investment projects.
But we ask our viewers to leave a comment
where they, in a couple of sentences, describe an idea for a startup
— nice sound —
for Mikhail Khodorkovsky that could maybe pique his interest
and, if not steal him from politics, then at least distract him a little
and serve as an energy outlet.
We will choose the idea for the most unusual,
weird, hilarious, whatever, startup ourselves
and reward its author with this wonderful game.
- Mikhail Borisovich, thank you so much! - Thank you.