20 minutes | Mar 16th 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.

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