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The Big Steal
37 minutes | Apr 27, 2020
9. The Big Steal – Epilogue
Gavin Esler talks to experts on Russia and its complicated political and economic landscape, to attempt to pull all the threads together and answer some of the questions that run through "the Big Steal". Gavin asks Vladimir Kara Murza how long Putin’s grip on power could last now he has effectively fixed things so he could be in power for as long as he lives. Can anything or anyone stop him? He asks Anne Applebaum if Russia will meddle in the US presidential election again this year? And what are the chances that Putin and his Kremlin cronies will ever be held to account?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
37 minutes | Apr 16, 2020
8. What comes after Putin?
What comes next? There are clear indications that Putin was behind meddling in the US election of 2016, and convincing arguments to suggest that he tested his tactics on the UK’s Brexit referendum earlier that same year. The Putin regime aims to sow chaos around the world, making the West look just as much a basket case as Russia. But after 20 years, could Putin’s grasp on power be coming to an end? Or will he find a way to hang on to power? In this episode we ask what could follow once Putin leaves office. Will we be faced with a more violent leader, or will the people rise and take power? The next election is due in 2024, but there is a strong chance Putin could stay in government, but he cannot go on forever, and so what can be done to ensure Russia changes to benefit it’s population in the coming decades? This episode features Mark Galeotti, Garry Kasparov, Tim Snyder, Arend Jan Boekestijn, Anne Applebaum and Vladimir Kara Murza.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
48 minutes | Apr 6, 2020
7. Russia's War Against Truth
A world of misinformation, disinformation, falsehoods, propaganda - the normalisation of lies. This episode focuses on the weapons used by the Putin regime to create chaos around the world. Charges raised against Russia include meddling in elections, cyberwarfare, international aggression, carrying out murders on foreign soil, and bombarding us with fake news. So what can be done about it? Maybe the only real solution is to wait for the Russian nation to rise against the leadership, whilst also ensuring that government is held to account in the courts and institutions responsible for justice around the world. And hope that it’s not too late. Appearing in this episode are Ben Emmerson QC. Dennis Krivosheev from Amnesty International, Dutch broadcaster and former MP Arend Jan Boekestijn and Hubert Smeets from Raam op Rusland.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21 minutes | Mar 30, 2020
6. Follow the Money
To understand Russia’s journey from Communism to kleptocracy in a generation, the best approach is to follow the money. At the heart of the story is something called ‘Reiderstvo’. This is defined as the illicit acquisition of a business or part of a business in Russia. It’s similar to asset grabbing but whilst in 1990s Russia criminal gangs would use violence to steal what they could and bribe some officials to leave them alone, in modern day Russia it’s no longer criminal gangs stealing money and businesses, it is the Russian state using the state apparatus, including the law, to steal. In this episode we explore the consequences of reiderstvo. It damages the growth of the Russian economy and discourages foreign investors from putting money into the country. So whilst the president of the largest country in the world makes his billions, the population of Russia, some one hundred and forty-four million people, live in abject poverty. This episode attempts to discover what it is that Putin really wants: money, power or both? We hear from Louise Shelley, Anders Alsund, and Mark Galeotti in order to find out where the money trail may lead.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | Mar 23, 2020
5. The American who made Putin Furious
In December 2013, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is pardoned by Putin for humanitarian reasons: his mother is sick. But whilst Khodorkovsky is released, others still remain in jail, or even worse, have been killed, by the Putin regime. In this episode we explore some of those victims of Putin’s corruption. Yukos employees such as Vasiliy Aleksanyan who have died as a result of their incarceration, and the longest serving political prisoner, Alexei Pichugin. We then hear from Bill Browder, a man that angered Vladimir Putin so much that he was namechecked in the first summit meeting between Putin and President Trump. Bill Browder was doing business in Russia. He was targeted in a corporate identity theft, his companies were stolen and the $230 million tax he’d paid to the Russian government was refunded back to shell companies fraudulently. His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated and figured it out. And instead of being rewarded for working out what had happened, he was arrested, thrown into jail and eventually brutally murdered by prison guards. Bill Browder now dedicates his life to getting the Magnitsky Act passed around the world: a law designed to freeze assets of human rights offenders and bans them from entering the country that imposes the act.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20 minutes | Mar 16, 2020
4. The Man in the Cage
Eight months after his arrest Mikhail Khodorkovsky is put on trial in a Moscow courtroom. It’s a show trial: Khodorkovsky is put in a cage; TV pictures are beamed all over the world, as if to set an example to other rich businessmen in Russia. Very quickly other rich oligarchs realise that Putin could come for them next and so they make deals with him, giving him 50% ownership of their companies, according to former businessman Bill Browder, to avoid persecution. This made Putin the richest man in the world. Meanwhile Khodorkovsky is sent to jail on trumped up charges of tax evasion and fraud. In this episode Mikhail Khodorkovsky recounts what life in a Russian jail was like and how significant the Yukos case was in terms of how Putin drew his line in the sand. He then set about taking down his perceived rivals one by one, and along the way he helped himself and his cronies to most of their money. We hear from opposition politician Vladimir Kara Murza and former chess grandmaster and now human rights campaigner Garry Kasparov as they recount the story of Khodorkovsky’s trial.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
3. The Man Who Challenged Putin
By 2003 Yukos was a success story, but Putin’s premiership was not going so well. He’d failed to deal competently with the Kursk submarine disaster, and then the Moscow Theatre siege ended in a bloodbath. Putin decides that he needs to stamp his authority and does so buy summoning the most powerful businessmen – the oligarchs – to a meeting and tells them he’ll stay out of their business if they stay out of politics. At the same time Mikhail Khodorkovsky is looking to expand Yukos further, but feels that he’s held back by the corruption in the Russian economy. In a televised meeting Khodorkovsky confronts Putin and informs him that, according to a survey, 80% of of the population in Russia think the majority of Russian officials are corrupt; and 25% of the Russian population think that all the Russian officials are corrupt including Putin himself. After the confrontation it didn’t look good for Khodorkovsky. He feared he’d be targeted by Putin and his fears were not unfounded. On October 25th 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man, was arrested at gun point on his private jet. Swedish economist Anders Aslund and Mikhail Khodorkosky recount the story, along with Professor Tim Snyder and Anne Applebaum.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
2. From Communism to Kleptocracy
The Cold War is over and 70 years of Communist rule is flushed away. In Soviet Russia, capitalists risked being shot, but with Communism gone, Mikhail Khodorkovsky started a small bank, Menatep, before rising to run one of the world’s most profitable energy businesses: Yukos. But the success of Khodorkovsky does not go unnoticed by Putin. Whilst Yukos is the biggest tax payer in the New Russia, Vladimir Putin has his eye on the greater prize. He wants the oil company’s profits for himself. And it is not long before he makes his move. Epsiode Two features first-hand accounts from Mikhail Khodorkovsky, along with Anders Aslund.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
1. The Rivals
In post-Soviet Russia, two men are rising through the ranks, but they are following different trajectories. One is a businessman: Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an entrepreneur, seizing opportunities as Russia looks likely to move towards a western style economy. Mikhail Khodorkovsky soon became the richest man in Russia. The other is a KGB officer, stationed in Dresden when the Berlin wall fell: Vladimir Putin went on to be head of the FSB and soon became President of the largest country in the world. With two diametrically opposed ideals, the two were destined to clash. And they when they did it was live on national television. This edition lays down the foundations for a struggle that lasted for around 15 years between the two patriotic Russians. Episode One features contributions from Mark Galeotti, Anders Aslund, Chris Bryant MP and Anne Applebaum.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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