[Marxism] Fw: [NYTr] Yukos: What Are 2 Yanks Doing Running a Russian Oil Co?

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sat Dec 11 18:13:31 MST 2004


From:           	mart 

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Forward from mart.
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----- Original Message ----- 
From: <nytr at olm.blythe-systems.com>
To: "NYTr List" <nytr at olm.blythe-systems.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 2:53 PM
Subject: [NYTr] Yukos: What Are 2 Yanks
Doing Running a Russian Oil Co?

Via NY Transfer News Collective
All the News that Doesn't Fit

Workers World - Dec 9, 2004 issue
http://www.workers.org/ww/2004/yukos1209.php


The Yukos Affair: What are two
Yanks doing running a Russian
oil company?

By Deirdre Griswold

If anything should set off whistles and bells for those trying
to understand what is happening in the struggle over Russia's
biggest oil company, it is the fact that the two top officials of
Yukos Oil are Steven M. Theede, the chief executive officer
(CEO), and Bruce K. Misamore, the chief financial officer
(CFO).


That's right. Not Ivan or Igor or Mikhail. Steven and Bruce,
who have been in charge of the oil company's fortunes, are
U.S. citizens, not even of Russian descent.


Yukos, according to the Dec. 1 New York Times, "accounts
for about 20 percent of oil production within Russia and
about 25 percent of exports. It has about 14.7 billion barrels
of oil reserves, almost as much as OPEC members Algeria
and Indonesia combined."


Theede and Misamore hastily left Moscow the last week
in November. Theede went to Washington, where he has
been having meetings with unidentified administration
officials. Dick Cheney, perhaps? George W. Bush himself?
 There are plenty of oil-related people in the administration
who would be very interested in talking to him.


The company's founder, Mikhail Kho dorkovsky, once
the richest man in Russia, has been in prison for the last
year, charged with tax evasion. When he was arrested,
$14 billion worth of stocks he held in Yukos Oil--44
percent of all shares in the company--were frozen by
government prosecutors, who said Yukos owed Russia
$24 billion in back taxes. This prevented him from going
through with a $20-billion projected investment deal
with Exxon-Mobil that undoubtedly was behind his
downfall.


When Khodorkovsky was jailed, the crème de la crème
of Washington's oil-soaked political elite tried to
intervene on his behalf. Khodorkovsky had hobnobbed
with George H.W. Bush, the former president; Henry
Kissinger, a Rockefeller protégé; former New Jersey
Sen. Bill Bradley, who advises the Open Russia
Foundation, funded by Khodorkovsky; and former
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. He had also
given large donations to the Car negie Endowment for
International Peace and the American Enterprise
Institute, bastions of imperialism.


The Wall Street Journal of Oct. 31, 2003, reported that
"a senior Bush administration official placed a call to a
counterpart in Moscow to inquire about the case earlier
this week. Yesterday, a Yukos representative met at the
White House with an official of the National Security
Council." It was almost a full-court press.


Restraining the Bush administration from going all-out
to grab Yukos, however, is its need for Russia's support
in its "war on terror." And perhaps the fear that crude
U.S. intervention in a grab for Russia's oil and gas
resources would unleash opposition from the masses of
people themselves, who are still not reconciled to the
idea that the country's great wealth should belong to a
small class of super-rich individuals, whether U.S. or
Russian, while millions of workers suffer horribly from
the return to capitalism.


Russian president Vladimir Putin, who represents the
new class of Russian capitalists, is treading a delicate
line with Washington. He doesn't want the full force
of U.S. hostility to be turned in the direction of Russia,
but at the same time he is not the pliant buffoon playing
Wash ington's game that his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin,
was.

Yeltsin wound up with a popularity rating of 6 percent
in the polls--while he was still president!


Putin is not talking about nationalizing Yukos--that would
really rev up Wash ington's attack dogs--but he is using the
tax issue to regain control over the important oil resources
that Khodor kovsky wanted to sell to the West. The Russian
gov ernment is preparing to auction off Yukos on Dec. 19
-- but at a very low price, one that Russian financial groups
can afford.


Why can't the imperialist oil companies use this opportunity
to just step in and buy the oil cheap? Because the government
is attaching a huge back-tax indemnity to the company. The
opening price at the auction is reported to be $8.6 billion, but
whoever buys it will have to pay $25 billion more to the
Russian government to cover the taxes. (Interfax) This, say
the financial analysts, will keep big U.S. oil companies out of
the bidding, and is expected to favor Russian companies like
Gazprom.


This whole struggle makes crystal clear what the Cold War
was all about. While Russian workers suffer staggering
declines in their quality of life, the U.S. imperialist ruling
class -- great champions of freedom and democracy -- are
focused on one thing: gaining control over the vast natural
resources of the former Soviet Union, which covered
one-seventh of the Earth's surface.


They succeeded in breaking up the USSR and now have
not only financial outposts but even soldiers and bases
in a number of the former Soviet republics, especially
those around the oil-and-gas-rich Caspian Sea. But the
big prize is Russia, with its huge area, much of it
unexploited, stretching from Europe to the Pacific.


Looking ahead, it is completely predictable that the kind
of imperialist arrogance shown in the Yukos affair will
help to rekindle not just a bourgeois nationalism in Russia,
but a working-class internationalism that unites all peoples
against the moneyed class, whose appetite to exploit labor
knows no limits.

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