In the grip of the Nord Stream Alliance


On July 28, 2000, new President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, former KGB officer, summoned to the Kremlin twenty-one oligarchs, who have acquired stakes in Russia's strategic industries over the past 10 years through their close connection with the Kremlin and former president Boris Yeltsin. The most powerful were the Jewish oligarchs, among them Boris Berezovsky, Roman Abramovich and Mikhail Chodorkovsky. During their secret meeting at Kremlin, President Putin announced that he would not review privatization but the oligarchs would no longer enjoy special privileges at Kremlin. They could keep their gains but stay out of politics. Some oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky were reluctant to adhere to Putin's new conditions. Berezovsky, who once supported Putin's presidential campaign, now criticized Putin's government using his television, ORT. The climax of this criticism was reached in August 2000, when the nuclear-powered Russian submarine, the Kursk, sank, killing all 118 crew. Putin's refusal to cut his holiday short and his rejection of foreign aid was exploited by ORT. President Putin immediately took action and began to exert pressure on Berezovsky to sell ORT. In an interview with France's "Le Figaro" published on October 26, 2000 President Putin, responding to a question about criticism of him by Boris Berezovsky, said "The state has a cudgel in its hands that you use to hit just once, but on the head..."We haven’t used this cudgel yet. We’ve just brandished it, which is enough to keep someone’s attention. The day we get really angry, we won’t hesitate to use it... It is inadmissible to blackmail the state. If necessary, we will destroy those instruments that allow this blackmail."481 In November 2000, Boris Berezovsky fled to France, where in mid-December he received a call from Roman Abramovich. According to Berezovsky, Abramovich was sent on specific orders of Putin to make him sell his shares in ORT, which would otherwise be nationalised. Stephen Curtis, Berezovsky's lawyer, advised on how to organize the sale. He set up accounts at Clydesdale Bank in London and the ORT shares were transferred, via an intermediary, to an Abramovich-owned company, which then sold them on to the state-owned savings bank Sberbank for the same price – 160 million dollars.482 In the same manner, Boris Berezovsky was forced to sell Roman Abramovicz his shares in a giant oil company, Sibneft, which Abramovich planned to sell to Gazprom. To receive and protect the proceeds from both the ORT and Sibneft, offshore trusts were set up in Gibraltar – the Itchen Trust for Berezovsky and the Test Trust for his business partner Bardi Patarkatsishvili.483 When Clydesdale bank suddenly announced it won't accept further deposits, part of the remaining balance of the Sibneft proceeds was deposited in an offshore account in the Netherlands Antilles, and a company in Mayfair.484

President Putin was also becoming increasingly impatient with another Jewish oligarch who made money on privatization of Russia's state assets – Mikhail Chodorkovsky. With dividends from Yukos Oil Company, Chodorkovsky invested in welfare infrastructure, hospitals, schools and police force across Russia, gaining support of the Russian people. Worse still, he got involved with politics, contributing to think tanks linked to Bush administration and donated to the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC), linked to British Labour government. He also paid millions of dollars to the opposition parties in Russia, the Union of Right Forces and its sister party, Yabloko, while another core Yukos shareholder contributed to the communists. However, what worried Putin most was Chodorkovsky teaming up with two powerful Jewish figures that represented the Anglo-American establishment: Henry Kissinger and Jacob Rothschild. In 2001, Chodorkovsky, Kissinger and Rothschild set up a joint venture called Open Russia Foundation, modeled on Soros' Open Society Institute, to invest in various activities in Russia and to influence succession of the next leaders in Russia to secure for themselves Russia's lucrative oil and gas industry. This was made clear in their mission statement read out by Mikhail Khodorkovsky on December 10, 2001, at Somerset House, owned by the Rothschild's Trust: “I am launching the Foundation in London to highlight the international nature of the Foundation's aims and to create an infrastructure from which the next generation of Russia's leaders would emerge. Yukos oil already supports various educational programs in Russia and I view this as the next step towards encouraging further cooperation between our country and the west.”485 In September 2002, Open Russia Foundation, launched its franchaise in Washington D.C. The event was attended by America's financial and business elite and was addressed by James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank and son of a Jewish businessman, Hyman Wolfensohn, who worked for the Rothschilds before moving to Australia. James Wolfensohn, who made into the banking industry working for Schroders in London and then Salomons Brothers in New York, made his mark in 1979, when, together with Chrysler Corporation's then chief executive officer Lee Iacocca and then President of the New York Fed, Paul Volcker, helped orchestrate the rescue of Chrysler from the verge of bankruptcy.486 Mikhail Khodorkovsky had also addressed the crowd making allusion to 9/11 attacks: “A year has gone since the tragedy and it is September once again, yet none of us had changed our plans, and we continue to work together. They say that the world has changed. I too feel the changes: we have began to understand one another better, we have finally realized that Russia and America are part of the same indivisible world and partnership relations between our two countries in many different areas are now developing at a rapid pace.”487

Chodorkovsky's meddling with Russian politics was in breach of the rules established by Putin two years ago. The two most powerful men in Russia clashed in February 2003, at one of their many meetings in Kremlin. Chodorkovsky complained that state-owned company Rosneft outbid Yukos in the purchase of Northern Oil Company and demanded investigation. Investigation was indeed launched in the aftermath of the meeting but not against Rosneft but against Yukos. On July 2, 2003, Platon Lebedev, Khodorkovsky's right hand man and a major shareholder in Yukos was arrested. The British consultants were urgently asked to arrange a safe refuge in London for Yukos' other executives. Chodorkovsky started considering merging Yukos with Abramovich's Sibneft, a deal that would have created the world's fourth-biggest oil company after ExxonMobil, BP and Shell. He was also planning the sale of substantial stake of Yukos to Rockefeller's ExxonMobil. On the morning of October 25, 2003, Khodorkovsky was arrested at the Novosibirsk airport, by FSB officials, and was charged with fraud and tax evasion. His shares in Yukos passed to his trusted aid, Jacob Rothschild, under a deal that they had concluded prior to Khodorkovsky's arrest.488 Russian Jew, Leonid Nevzlin, second in command at Yukos, fled to Israel, where Benjamin Netanyahu granted him citizenship with extraordinary speed.489 British lawyer, Stephen Curtis, Chodorkovsky's legal adviser, who became custodian of Yukos' assets and chairman of Menatep, now found himself in a big danger. On March 3, 2004, his brand new helicopter was approaching Bournemouth Airport. It was raining and the runaway was covered by a cloud. Captain Max Radford, an experienced 34-year old pilot who regularly flew Curtis to and from London, asked traffic control for permission to land.

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481 “Putin Warns Oligarchs With “Cudgel”, The Moscow Times, 27 October 2000 257805.html »

482 Hollingsworth & Lansley, Londongrad...op.cit, p. 96 »

483 Ibid., p. 100 »

484 Ibid., p. 102 »

485 The Times, 22 August 2006 »

486 Michael Stutchbury, “The man who inherited the Rothschild legend”, The Australian, 30 October 2010 »

487 “Open Russia Foundation launched in the U.S.”, Yukos Oil Company, 2000-2003, Archives »

488 “Arrested oil tycoon passed shares to banker”, The Washington Times, 2 November 2003 »

489 489Sharon Kedmi, “Questions in Knesset on citizenship for Yukos executive Nevzlin”, Globes – Israel's business arena, 4 November 2003 »