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GB RUSSIA - "Putin and the Oligarch" by Prof. Richard Sakwa

On 20 December 2013, one of the most startling events in modern Russian history occurred.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky walked out of jail, a free man.  Was the unexpected pardon of the former chief of the Yukos oil company a show of strength from Putin?  Or was it a desperate attempt to divert attention from the wider issues plaguing the Russian State?

The case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has fascinated the international community for the last decade.  At the time of his arrest and imprisonment in 2003, Khodorkovsky was one of the world’s richest and most powerful men, while Yukos had been transformed into a vast and lucrative oil company that was set to go global.  In his talk, Professor Richard Sakwa will provide a full account of the case – the first – from arrest to release.  He will examine the rise and fall of Yukos, and the development of the Russian oil industry more generally, as well as analysing the relationship between Putin’s state and big business during Russia’s traumatic shift from the Soviet planned economy to the market system.  In doing so, Professor Sakwa will chart one of the most dramatic confrontations between economic and political power in our era, full of human drama and moral dilemmas.

Richard Sakwa is Professor of Russian and European Politics and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent.  He is also an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House and the author of The Crisis of Russian Democracy (CUP, 2010); Putin: Russia’s Choice (Routledge, 2004 & 2008); Communism in Russia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Russian Politics and Society (Routledge, 2008); The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union (Routledge, 1999) and Gorbachev and his Reforms (Prentice Hall, 1990).

Tickets for this talk at £7 (£5 for GB Russia members) are only available by email to: